Scuderia Ferrari started with a front-row lockout at the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday but had to settle for a second-place for Sebastian Vettel and fourth for Charles Leclerc.
Both drivers avoided the chaos on the opening lap, although Vettel edged Lewis Hamilton off the track on the run down to turn one.
Nevertheless, Vettel was able to go more than half of the race on the medium tyres before pitting once for the hard tyres. Ferrari was reluctant to respond to Hamilton’s pitstop, a strategy that did not work after 71 laps around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Vettel thought the strategy was the right idea and that he and the team were unlucky to not win: “It was simply a case of not believing that the hard tyres could last so long, considering how early in the race Lewis pitted.
“He took a risk and it paid off. For our part, we tried both strategies; two stops for Charles and one for me and the final result proves that both of them were good.”
“Obviously, we can’t be pleased with this result, because when you start from the front row, as a team, you expect to win.
“In the closing laps we lacked the speed to try and go for the win. For Lewis and Valtteri, everything went really perfectly, while maybe we were just a bit unlucky,” the four-time champion added.
Leclerc was the lead driver on a two-stop strategy but he lost out during his second pitstop as the rear right tyre took its time to be fitted properly. The Monegasque driver lost 3-4 crucial seconds in the pitstop but ultimately lacked pace to mount a challenge on the Mercedes’.
“Starting a race from pole and not finishing first is always disappointing. The beginning of the race went well, and I managed to stay in the lead for the first stint,” Leclerc said.
“After my first stop the race was very tricky: my second stint was difficult and any time I approached a car ahead I struggled with overheating and couldn’t overtake.
“All in all, it’s a shame but if there is something I can learn from today it is to try to help the team more with my feedback from inside the car so that we can make the best call together.”
Despite not only taking the last three pole positions but locking out the front row too, Ferrari has failed to convert the exceptional qualifying performances into victories for the third successive Grand Prix.
Team Principal, Mattia Binotto, remained positive on the weekend as a whole.
“No doubt we cannot say we are happy today, as starting first and second you expect a different outcome. It was a long afternoon and we knew it would be a tough race, managing the tyres.
“In terms of strategy, who was behind took a gamble and decided to go for a very early one-stop, which is what you do when you are not in front. Well done to them.
“This unexpected behaviour of the tyres is probably the main surprise today. But in the end, I think we had a good pace today and a good qualifying yesterday and this is what is reassuring and encouraging us, so we are looking forward to the next races.”