It was an exciting and yet chaotic race at Silverstone. Ferrari had a good chance to reduce their gap to Red Bull in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship as the two drivers were leading one-two.
Charles Leclerc was looking was in a superb shape and it looked like he was going to take his first victory since the Australian GP in April. That was until a late Safety Car put the advantage into the hands of teammate Carlos Sainz, who passed Leclerc before claiming his first victory, as Leclerc was relegated to P4.
The pit wall decisions not to stop Leclerc, who was on used hard tyres, during the late safety car, caused a lot of disappointment.
At the end of the race, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto defended his team’s choices, especially the missed pit stop for Leclerc.
“I think the decision we took was the right one, the proper one, each single time. Should we have stopped at the Safety Car is maybe the only one we are questioning, I think. If we would have stopped [Charles] maybe the others would have stayed out and he would have maybe been fourth on soft tyres.
“On the other side, would he have been able to recover the position? Not sure. I think that obviously with hindsight it’s easy to say that we could have done [something] differently. Once again, we have a Safety Car at the wrong moment when we are leading the race comfortably.
Binotto claimed the team decisions were fully correct but admitted Leclerc’s disappointment was understandable.
“We knew that the restart would be very difficult. It would have been very difficult for him [Leclerc] because the others behind on soft tyres would have been very aggressive.
“We had to trust and let [Carlos] do the best he can do for the team, and himself certainly, but for the team.
“And I think [Carlos] proved the few laps before with swapping with no discussion. And even when stopping in the first pit stops earlier, compared to Charles, he had no discussion because he trusts in the team and the way he is behaving.
“So I am very happy. He did his best and there was no way probably to give the race to Charles. I think he did the best he could do for a Ferrari victory.”
The Italian team boss concluded claiming that he was extremely happy for Sainz’s maiden victory in Formula One, a “deserved” achievement in his eyes.
“I think that’s the strength of Carlos, always being there, try to be there and get the opportunity,” said Binotto.
“As yesterday in qualy, maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and he made pole, so that’s his strength – be consistent to the end, to the chequered flag, and get the opportunity when the opportunity is coming.
“And for him, I’m really very happy because his first victory I think was important for him, with Ferrari even more important, so I’m very pleased and I think he deserved it.”
With the Ferrari drivers ending first and fourth, this means that Leclerc still holds P3 in the drivers’ standings, but missed the incredible opportunity to reduce the gap to campionship leader Verstappen, who finished P7. Sainz, on the other hand, now seats only 11 points behind his teammate.