“We are tight on margin” tells Leclerc’s engineer to the Monegasque himself, as soon as he left the pits for his last Q3 out-lap. Once the two Ferraris made it into the last sector the situation was critical: “Seb is slowing down, we won’t make it!” complained Charles Leclerc, until the last grain of sand in the hourglass fell and the checkered flag was waved in the Abu Dhabi night.
“Margin zero”, not enough time left to complete the warm-up lap and therefore no chance for Leclerc to have one last qualifying attempt.
Despite the team radio, heatened up by the tension, there was no responsability on Sebastian Vettel, who had Albon and Sainz right in front. Once more, this mistake came from the Ferrari’s pitwall. And that makes it even harder to swallow.
“All weekend long we have been losing so much time in the third sector –explained Mattia Binotto- so we decided to wait up to the last second before letting the drivers go, in order to have the best track condition possible”. That would explain why Ferrari decided to go back on track after everybody else, but then, why the time ran out before Leclerc made it to the line?
There was no misjudgement according to Binotto, that stated: “We found traffic in the last sector, that’s why we didn’t have any time left”. Doesn’t it literally mean a ‘misjudgement’ then? Traffic in T3 is no new thing to Formula 1 and not taking it into consideration is a huge mistake.
Under the pressure of journalists, Binotto stood his feet and kept on denying any error: “We had to gamble. We were far away from poleposition therefore we tried to take any advantage possible. It was a risk we were aware of, we knew that, but in the end it didn’t pay off. Amen, so it be.”
Ferrari’s team principal looked not willing to put anyone in the team under the spotlight by blaming the failure onto the strategists, but from the outside nothing seemed to have been down to bad luck and neither traffic. But it’s definetly not the first time Ferrari messes strategies up and, in order to solve this massive problem, probably the first step would be to at least take their own responsabilities.