Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, says Charles Leclerc adopted the correct approach to turn one of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, only for the Monegasque racer to be hit from behind by Lance Stroll.
Scuderia Ferrari took their third podium finish of the season at the Hungaroring thanks to a third-place finish for Carlos Sainz Jr., but it could have been an even better day for the Maranello-based squad had Leclerc managed to get through turn one.
He was on course to be at worst third, but maybe even second, ahead of eventual race winner Esteban Ocon, only for Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Stroll to heavily damage his SF71 at turn one.
“We were in with the chance of a great result given that the rain before the start created an opportunity to fight for a top place finish,” said Binotto.
“However, even though Charles adopted the right cautious approach to the initial moments after the start in the wet and had managed to move further up the order, he was hit from behind by a driver who had tackled the corner in a less than prudent manner, to say the least.
“It was a real shame because I think Charles could have done really well today.”
Binotto also feels Sainz could have been in contention for the victory against Ocon and Sebastian Vettel, had the Spaniard not fallen behind Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi and Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Yuki Tsunoda in the pit lane.
The Team Principal feels other teams did not follow the same kind of rules Ferrari did in releasing their drivers into the queue, and as a result, Sainz lost two positions and a lot of time to the leading duo in falling in behind them in the opening stint. He ultimately finished fourth on the road, although he took his second podium finish of the year thanks to the disqualification of Vettel from second place on a technicality.
“Carlos drove a great first part of the opening lap to go from fifteenth to fourth,” said Binotto. “At the restart, he came in immediately for slicks and, after a pit stop in under two seconds, we released him back into the pit lane, observing the safety requirements taking into consideration all the traffic at that time.
“In front of our place in the pits, others seemed to have no such qualms and so we lost several places, which probably cost Carlos the chance to fight with the two drivers who finished first and second. As far as the race went from then on, fourth is a fair reflection of our race performance.”
Binotto says the team has reacted well in the first half of the season to their difficulties, and they have been making regular progress. He also says the drivers have both acquitted themselves well and have shown themselves to be very strong, and he hopes the second half of the year will continue in the same way.
“A very intense first half of the championship has now come to an end, during which the team reacted well after a very difficult season last year,” he said. “We have a couple of young, very strong drivers who are making progress, as are we.
“Now we can take a short break to pause for breath and recharge the batteries, before tackling the second part of the year with renewed energy.”