F1 | São Paulo GP | Charles Leclerc dissappointed in Ferrari's strategy, as Mekies assures it was a "qualifying lottery"
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc spoke to the press after Qualifying prior to racing at the Sprint at Interlagos, where they will be starting 5th and 10th respectively.
In a bid to have a go at what they later would call "a lottery game", and in order to try and get ahead of its competitors, Ferrari was once again at the center of criticism when, in Friday's qualifying for the Sprint race at Interlagos, the Maranello team decided to send Charles Leclerc out of track at Q3 on the Pirelli Intermediates, in anticipation of the forecast of rain in Sao Paulo, while the remaining nine cars in the session ran on softs.
The 25-year-old was annoyed at the team's strategy which will ultimately see him starting 10th in Saturday's Sprint race, and he showed his displeasure to the press after the session.
“We were expecting some rain which never came,” said the Monegasque driver.
“I will speak with the team and try to understand what we can do better in those conditions. But I’m extremely disappointed. It’s a very disappointing outcome given that the pace was there. We still have a good car, so now we need to get on it and push to make up positions tomorrow in the Sprint."
Race Director Laurent Mekies talked to the media on Ferrari’s polemic decision.
“It's a bit frustrating because we got both cars into Q3, and then we were confronted with a tough choice,” he said.
“On one side, you have the track still being dry. And there is a golden rule that says that you should go for that track while it is dry. On the other side, we were expecting heavy rain imminently. Therefore, at the end of the day, we have split our cars [strategy].
“You always know, at that very moment where your cars are going out that, depending on the exact timing of the rain, it's going to be one happy man and one unhappy man. That's exactly what happened,” he said.
“The rain came probably a minute or two too late for Charles, and was probably the right timing for Carlos who was second on track. It's the way it is: P5 and P10. It's the start of a long, long weekend.
“We have had many, many good qualifyings this year, including in very tricky conditions like today,” he said.
“But in this sort of difficult situation, there is always a lot to learn about the right decisions to make and about the less right.
“Certainly it's something that we have taken on board, with good habits, to analyse in detail with teams with drivers and pull together to always look at after. We will use today to make another step together.”
Carlos Sainz, despite not having been on the more detrimental side of Ferrari's strategy, was unhappy with the result that he was ultimately able to capitalize on with only a fifth starting position for Saturday.
"A tough day for the team in a tricky qualifying. We had one shot in Q3 with the Softs before the rain arrived and we will be starting from P5 tomorrow.
“We tried to be starting the queue first,” said the Spaniard.
“But we lost quite a bit of time behind Charles and we lost a lot of time to Kevin [Magnussen]. This meant that he had probably a drier track than us at that point.
“I tried to push a lot and probably over pushed. I did a couple of big mistakes, like big moments. that probably cost me P2/P3.
“Today we survived the very tricky conditions and we need to review a couple of things as a team, but we will try to be better next time.
“We will try to use the sprint race to gain some positions before serving the penalty on Sunday. Congratulations to Kevin and the entire Haas team for their first pole position."