Despite finishing fourth in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday, Charles Leclerc feels like it was a victory, particularly after starting eighth on the grid for the second Silverstone event.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver made a poor start to drop to tenth, but the Monegasque racer made a one-stop strategy work to his advantage to finish fourth. He was one of only three drivers to pit only once during the fifty-two lap event alongside Esteban Ocon and Kimi Räikkönen.
Leclerc admitted there were concerns at Ferrari that a one-stop strategy was possible, particularly after the tyre failures a week before, but he stuck to his guns and was able to jump ahead of both BWT Racing Point Formula One Team drivers to finish fourth.
“Today feels like a victory, which is not something we like to say when we finish fourth,” said Leclerc. “If you would have told me this morning that I could finish the race in my starting position in eighth, I would have signed immediately.
“In terms of strategy, the team had some concerns about the one-stop approach, looking at what happened to some of the tyres last week. But sometimes, as a driver, you feel something in the car that you can’t see in the data. So I pushed to go for one stop because I believed I could make it work. I am glad that we went for it and that it worked out well.”
Leclerc was positive that his tyre management at Silverstone was vastly improved compared to last year, and he feels the hard work he has been doing to make the tyres work for longer is paying dividends right now.
“Last year, I knew that my weakest point was tyre management,” admitted Leclerc. “I worked very hard to improve there, and to see the result on track is a huge satisfaction for me.
“I am interested in analysing the data from today and understanding where we found our pace. I was quite impressed, and it was a positive surprise. In tough times like these, we have to take any opportunity we can get, and we did that today, so I am very happy with the result.”
Vettel Questions Strategy Calls as German Struggles Home to Twelfth
For team-mate Sebastian Vettel, his adventures at Silverstone ended with a twelfth-place finish on Sunday, which came a week after a tenth-place finish at the same track in the British Grand Prix.
His 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was compromised early on when he spun exiting the first turn on the opening lap, and although he did not lose touch with the field, he made heavy work of the traffic ahead of him.
Vettel was unable to get close to the points and even though he admitted the spin did not help, he felt the strategic calls made on Sunday were perhaps not the best, particularly a short stint on the hardest Pirelli compound followed by a longer stint on the medium compound.
“Today I tried my best,” said Vettel. “Unfortunately, I had a spin in turn 1 and I’m not sure what happened there. I thought I got hit, but actually it was a kerb, and I suddenly lost the car.
“However, I also feel we could have done a better job on the strategy. After my first stop I was in traffic and for this reason we had to bring forward the second stop. In the end I had to drive on the Medium tyres for 20 laps, which I feel was not the best choice we could have made today.
“Of course the race was difficult overall and it’s a pity we couldn’t get back to where we wanted to be.”
“It was definitely a better day than yesterday” – Mattia Binotto
Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal of Ferrari, felt Sunday was a much better day for the Maranello-based squad, with the hard tyre in particular giving them a chance to move up the pecking order.
Aside from the first lap, it was a race of promise for Ferrari, with Leclerc gaining six places and Vettel eight, although for the latter this meant another pointless weekend. He has only scored ten points in the opening five races.
Binotto feels that in future races, the team need to give both drivers the chance to make the most of their talent, with Vettel’s race being compromised early on preventing him from doing just that at Silverstone.
“It was definitely a better day than yesterday,” said Binotto. “On the Hard tyre in the race, we rediscovered a level of performance that at least allowed us to stay ahead of our current rivals.
“Given the positions of our drivers at the end of the first lap – Charles tenth and Sebastian last – we tried to make the best strategy choices to bring home as many points as possible for the team. After that we made up six places with Charles and eight with Sebastian, so I don’t think we could have done better in a race in which there were hardly any retirements or safety car periods.
“Charles finished in the same excellent position as last weekend and Sebastian’s position was the result of his first lap incident. We must do all we can to ensure that he too can make the most of his talent and use all the car’s potential.”
Formula 1 now moves across to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, and Ferrari are expecting another tough test for the SF1000 after struggling there during pre-season testing in February.
Binotto, however, says they will be working extremely hard to maximise their result next Sunday, with Silverstone proving that they can work minor miracles despite relatively poor form.
“Now we face another test at the very demanding Montmelo track, where we had struggled during winter testing,” said Binotto. “The aim is still the same: to improve our performance both in qualifying and the race to bring home as many points as possible with both drivers. “