‘Outside perceptions’ of Ferrari strategy errors this year are wrong – Binotto

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto rejected claims the squad made the latest in a series of strategic errors during last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc questioned the team’s decision to make a late pit stop during Sunday’s race at Spa-Francorchamps. The team intended to fit a fresh set of tyres in a bid to set the fastest lap of the race and take the bonus point that came with it.

Ferrari pressed aheda with the plan, but it backfired. Leclerc was passed by Fernando Alonso when he rejoined the circuit, and although he was able to repass the Alpine, he lost some time doing so at the beginning of his final lap.

Not only was Leclerc unable to beat Max Verstappen’s fastest lap time, he also collected a penalty for speeding in the pits, which dropped him behind Alonso. Ferrari’s attempt to gain an extra point therefore ended up costing them two.

Alonso said Leclerc’s late pit stop was the latest in a series of curious decisions by the team. “Ferrari has been doing strange things, so that was another strange thing,” he remarked after the race.

It was the latest in a series of tactical decisions by the team which have drawn criticism. Leclerc has lost positions as a result of the team’s calls on several occasions. These included in Monaco, when the team switched him onto intermediate tyres, at the British Grand Prix when Ferrari chose not to pit him during a late Safety Car period and in the Hungarian Grand Prix when the team fitted hard tyres which proved the wrong choice of compound.

However Binotto believes there is “no need” for Ferrari to reconsider its approach to strategy and insists decisions some regard as errors were not.

“Obviously there is always a need to improve and there are lessons learned on which we are looking and reflecting,” he said. “But if I look back at the season, I think there is a lot of perception from outside compared to what are the truth and the reality. I think sometimes we’re not doing these things that may have been perceived as mistakes.”

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The decision to pit Leclerc at the end of Sunday’s race “was the right call”, Binotto stated.

“You need to be brave in F1. If there is an opportunity to try to get the fast lap and there was the margin on Fernando to stop on that and try to go for it, I think it was the right decision.

“We knew it would have been very close to Fernando. He was just ahead and lost the position. But we knew as well that he could have overtook him back because he’s got the fresher tyres and that would have helped in terms of DRS and top speed in the main straight. So once again, I think it was the right decisions.”

Leclerc narrowly failed to rejoin the track ahead of Alonso. His pit stop was not especially slow – six-tenths of a second off Ferrari’s best that day – but he ran slightly wide at the chicane on his way into the pits following the late decision to come in, which would have cost him some time.

Ferrari said Leclerc narrowly broke the pit lane speed limit because it lacked the wheel speed data from the front-right corner of his car as a sensor was damaged by overheating earlier in the race. This happened when the brake duct ingested a tear-off which Verstappen dropped on lap one. “That’s the type of risk you always have,” Binotto admitted.

Carlos Sainz Jnr started the race from pole position but finished a distant third, 26 seconds behind winner Verstappen. Binotto said that margin showed Ferrari didn’t have the pace to win even without the early Safety Car period which prevented Sainz from capitalising on the performance offered by the soft tyres he started on.

“Red Bull this weekend was certainly stronger and significantly stronger to win anyhow,” he said. “So I don’t think it has affected the final result.

“On top of that, I think Carlos was on soft tyres while the others were on medium, Checo and the one behind, and when you’ve got a Safety Car very soon in the race it may somehow as well help a slow introduction of soft tyres in terms of thermal management, et cetera.

“So I would say no, I don’t think that the Safety Car has affected the results. Red Bull has simply been much stronger this weekend.

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
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40 comments on “‘Outside perceptions’ of Ferrari strategy errors this year are wrong – Binotto”

  1. You can make the case for last weekend’s decision, and if you want to believe that using Alonso for DRS was somehow deliberate that might be a clever trick, but it was still a pretty pointless move. Leclerc is not in a title battle with Verstappen at this point, so whether he takes one point off of him or not is completely irrelevant.

    But Ferrari’s strategy in Monaco? Canada? England? Hungary? There have been plenty of questionable if not downright wrong calls by Ferrari this season.

    1. This.

      At least this time they tried to take initiative and snatch extra point. Well the execution was too far from decent, but at this point Ferrari is fighting for second (or third for more wind tunnel time, lol) and they can experiment.

      After all it is “learning season”. Now it is the time to learn to be on top of their own race, not just react on the Red Bull pit wall.

      Sadly, they don’t show any visible signs of “learning” so far.

  2. This man is a problem. You cant just dismiss the situation stating the perception is wrong. The trouble is too frequent and of similar nature every episode.

  3. I don’t know what is the most scariest thing. The mistakes? The thing they don’t realize their own mistakes or the fact I’m starting to believe them?

    1. @qeki You’re starting to believe them :-)

  4. I can understand Binotto wanting to put a brave face on things and keep morale up, alleviate some pressure on those making the calls. But even if we give Ferrari the benefit of the doubt on a handful of decisions and say they did their best with the info they had at the time. That still leaves plenty that were just either strange or plain wrong. I think it’s good to acknowledge the bad ones, they happen.

    Teams that win world championships rarely get their strategies questioned (and certainly not at what seems almost every round). And when they do drop the ball – they tend to be the first to say “Yeah, we got that one wrong”.

    1. @bernasaurus:
      Yes, this is an option. It could be he knows, but he makes the statement anyway just to divert attention and blame to himself, protecting the team. That would be a positive because there was a time not too long ago where things were done differently… But wile that is nice, they still need to fix the cause of these dodgy decisions

    2. I agree @bernasaurus
      As much as I can’t stand Horner and Wolff, at leadt they’re the 1st to say “we need to go away and understand where our strategy went wrong, as we can’t allow that to happen again”.
      Binotto won’t even acknowledge that a mistake was made, so you can’t believe that they’re even attempting to learn / improve from it.

      1. I hope even Binotto realises they have made mistakes even if he doesn’t publicly acknowledge this. They are never going to be able to change otherwise.

        This incident only looks so bad in the context of their previous errors. Going for fastest lap was not a bad idea but maybe they could have done it the lap before. They would not have had any idea Leclerc would break the speed limit in the pits, I see it as a quite minor error which is being amplified.

  5. Put your head in the sand and listen to the record “We are Ferrari, we do things our way” by Bernie is not going to solve their problems.
    It’s not the first error they make this year, and it’s not the first year they make mistakes but I feel that when it happens to RedBull or Mercedes, they learn their lessons and that’s why they get better results from what is available.

    The sensor defect was known before the pit, is it hard to remind the driver about a bit of margin? If the situation is tight, can’t they make the call “pit if end of lap is great”?
    We don’t even mention the polling drivers about choice of tires during the race when all teams are reporting they behave differently from predictions, this is a team call, not driver’s at that point.

    1. That’s the key thing – Mercedes and Red Bull learn from their mistakes whereas Ferrari get defensive and try to pretend no mistakes were made. These comments from Binotto give us insight into why Ferrari aren’t improving.

      Is the culture like that throughout the rest of the team?

      “The new front wing isn’t working.”
      “Yes it is.”
      “Well… the data says it’s too draggy and the drivers are reporting it’s made the car difficult to drive.”
      “That’s their perception but I designed the wing and it’s definitely better.”

      1. Hehe, can totally picture the ego discussion…

        “You recruited me because I’m the best designer or what?”
        “Hum, yes, we want the best at Ferrari”
        “Then trust me”
        “Ok”

    2. “We are Ferrari, we do things our way” by Bernie

      Hey, when was Bernie a part of Ferrari?. I need to brush up on his bio.

  6. Leclerc: “Hey team, why am I on a used set of tires at a critical point in the qualifying?”
    Scuderia: “Lmao, just push harder, bro. Mattia, pass me some of that wine!”

    Leclerc: “Hey team, Why was I send out of the pits, on a brand new set of tires, without even a theoretical chance of doing a fast lap; just to give my teammate a tow?”
    Scuderia: “This is the plan, fratellino. You don’t even need to finish the lap. Now hurry up, we already poured the wine, don’t let it spoil! ”

    Scuderia: “Lol, lets go for fastest lap! The kids call it ‘trolling’.”
    Leclerc: “I would not risk it this time…”
    Scuderia: “Unlike our fuel, the wine in my glass IS leaded, for added sweetness. Now hurry up and pit, or we’ll make your glass extra tall and triple-sweet, just like the lap we need you to make to stay ahead of Alonso! ”

    2022 Ferrari is a joke, and not a funny one at that.

  7. There has been a case to argue for pretty much every call they’ve made.

    That doesn’t stop it being the wrong call, or stop it being a call that no other team or long term fan would make.

    Just because there is a reason for the call being made doesn’t mean that everyone who can see the disaster unfold is incorrect, Mattia, and it doesn’t stop your strategy team being the most inept – certainly of the top few teams.

    1. @sham

      There has been a case to argue for pretty much every call they’ve made.

      I don’t think that’s true. Silverstone was a clear and obvious error even at the moment it happened with the available data. They left their main championship contender and race leader as a sitting duck. Should’ve doublestacked. No ifs or buts.
      Hungary too. Red Bull learned on the lap to the grid that the hards would not work and changed their strategy even before the race started. Ferrari also should’ve seen that the hard wasn’t good when Alpine fitted them and it didn’t work. But they still stuck to putting them on and it was wrong. Charles was feeling good on the mediums, they ignored that. Had they not done so he could’ve very much done a MMS strategy like Carlos.

      There were more moments like these for both drivers.

      I will accept that in Spa you could make a case for the late stop.

  8. I reject your reality, and substitute my own!

  9. This happened when the brake duct ingested a tear-off which Verstappen dropped on lap one.

    That tear-off could fill a whole episode in DtS if the season where te end anywhere close between Verstappen and Leclerc.
    But we all know the season won’t end close between these two.

    1. It’s a new Red Bull development that breaches the Cost Cap – precision guided tear offs with Fire and Forget technology to zero in on brake ducts of the car behind.

  10. Ferrari’s decisions are one thing, Leclerc’s performances are another. Coupled together, they have been a disaster although the lions share of the blame rests with Leclerc and his seemingly insurmountable desperation creeping in. Had he not lost a couple of tenths entering the pits, he would not have been as close to Alonso as he was, had he not pressed the pit lane limiter button as marginally close to the line when he did, he would not have received a penalty. Both are acts of a driver desperate to perform at a level higher than he is able given the circumstances (not his capability, just overdriving a car that won’t stick), rather than someone who is extracting 100% exactly. Many drivers are guilty of this, but the really good drivers know exactly where 100% is and don’t go beyond that line when they know it’ll cost them in the long term. This is a lesson Leclerc has failed to learn in the past and all season so far this year. Just look at Paul Ricard – desperate to get away and overdrives the grip level and he bins it into the wall

    1. @marvinthemartian the pit lane speeding was a sensor that went bad during the race and not Charles’ error.

      Charles has made two mistakes this year – Imola and France. They are high-profile mistakes and they have cost him quite some points. But Ferrari have cost him more with bad strategy and unreliability.

      I do agree Charles will need to cut out the few errors he tends to make per year if he wants to have any chance against Max in a great car.

  11. What about sending Leclerc in Q3 on the wrong tyre or discussing the entire race strategy on the radio ?

    1. Exactly this! The call to have Charles try for the fastest lap wasn’t necessarily wrong but with only one lap left all the things Binotto talks about were unlikely to happen that quickly for Charles to get a clean run at the fastest lap. So it was possible to do, but doubtful. They should have tried it a lap earlier. But the tyre mistake in Q3 or giving away their strategy on the radio or every other mistake they have made throughout the year is a different story. They need serious change at the top of Ferarri if they want to compete for championships.

      1. @g-funk
        The issue is that Binotto is in denial mode. The team with regard to racing operations is dysfunctional to say the least. They seem to be a bunch of amateurs going racing for the first time and this has been obvious for years even for the casual fans .

  12. Unfortunately, this just appears to be yet another mistake and it’s arguably even worse than the others combined.

    Mistakes happen from time to time but they can be turned into a positive by accepting the mistake and learning from it. Refusing to accept mistakes is like refusing to accept reliability issues after you retire from the 10th race in a row. Unless you address the issue and fix it, you’re going to keep having problems.

  13. Binotto is asserting his alternative facts.

  14. oh ok, then, their strategy calls must be on point, if he says so.

  15. Mark in Florida
    30th August 2022, 14:14

    Binotto just can’t bring himself to admit that they’ve been wrong more than right this year. That is a personal failing of the worst sort. You have to be man enough to say well we got that wrong! The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over, then expecting a different result. I believe that is where Ferrari is right now. They are stuck in a falacy of we can’t get it wrong! But they are getting it wrong. Even the other team principals are remarking on Ferrari curious strategy calls. Binotto just can’t take any criticism and has no motivation to change or do better. His only route forward is to exit the team and do something else for a living.

    1. Motorsport.com also quoted Alonso saying, when asked about getting 5th after Leclerc’s stop and subsequent penalty: “It is OK, Ferrari has been doing strange things, so that was another strange thing.”

      Denying there is an issue prevents the team from solving those problems. That leads to others ‘compensating’, and that more often than not causes further problems. The failed 2017 and 2018 campaigns should have been a lesson here.

  16. Of course, outsiders are wrong.

  17. Fake news.

  18. There was no way LEC could have gotten fastest lap following any other car on that track except VER. It was a dumb move and if they really don’t understand that, then I see them losing to Mercedes in the constructors if HAM can stay calm.

  19. Ferrari is like the whole Italy. Si, our country is beatiful and full of many great things. Don’t listen to those who say Itali is very bad and has a lot of debt and has a bad coverment. No, we are Itali, everyone is love with us. Look at that Fiat over there. It is a not perfect and it has crashed a few times but it is still part of Itali and it makes us who we are. Not perfect but no problems! That’s why we are the best.

    1. Uh, @qeki Fiat is now an empty badge. Franch property, they produce in Italy only the Panda and Y10 (Lancia brand), sold locally. Most products come from Poland, Turkey and south America. No more decent automotive mass production there. Little exception Alfa Giulia and Stelvio, still little numbers.

  20. Question?

  21. From “my outside”, I already questioned the strategy multiple times. At Hungary I was already angry at Alpine when they put the hards on! And then came Ferrari who could see the same race and laptimes…
    Then here at spa, I thought “no they won’t do That because it’s too close to Alonso. But they did.

    I think there’s even more going on than we can see. Leclerk and Binotto, I don’t know but they seem committed to each other…

  22. I can’t help but feel Ferrari just frazzles themselves by over- complicating things. I know strategies are more complex than it outwardly seems sometimes, but do they really need to have options all the way down to “Plan G”? It seems by the time they’ve assessed all the scenarios they’ve come up with pre-race they’ve already missed the window to do the right thing or get confused and do the wrong thing!

  23. Worrying that he can’t just accept it and tries to tell us we’re all just wrong. We can all see, from armchair pundits to the very real and very experienced ones, Ferrari right now is an utter shambles. Pretending it’s not is literally the last thing Binotto should be doing.

  24. Sure, Binotto is circling the wagons. But they’re Ferrari wagons and they’re gorgeous. Just like their cars, their strategy, their drivers and their insurmountable championship lead.

    ;-)

  25. Looks like Ferrari has 100s of TPs to choose from. Suggest Ferrari hire 20 of the most vocal and give them a chance to show how it’s done.

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