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Ferrari's Early Pit Stop Strategy Backfires

Vasseur: Stopping Leclerc early was ‘the only way to move up.’

09/07/2024

Ferrari’s strategic gamble with an early pit stop for Leclerc fails to yield the expected advantages in the race.

Fred Vasseur sought to temper criticism of Ferrari’s decision regarding Charles Leclerc during the race, as the Monegasque pitted just as the rain began, before the track dried significantly. He noted that his driver was in a challenging position on the track after a disappointing qualifying, necessitating an aggressive strategy from the Scuderia.

“We provide information, and we offer a choice; at some point, they need to pit, and they need to decide,” explained Vasseur. “In this situation, and I’ve discussed it with Charles, it’s certain that we can be disappointed when we see the result at the end.”

“It’s clear that it wasn’t the right choice, or the right decision. But I would say it’s also motivated by the fact that at that stage, we’re already 15 or 10 seconds behind Carlos. This means that, consciously or unconsciously, you know the only way to move up and fight for the podium is to be a bit aggressive in the decision.”

“Sure, it wasn’t the right decision, because I think he would have finished sixth, but collectively we made this decision. And I’m not saying it was a good decision, because the reality is that it wasn’t a good decision, but I’m not upset by this decision.”

“Because if you look at the same lap, Hamilton came out of turn 1, Russell came out of turn 1, another car came out of turn 15. It was really about to become a very good decision. And when you’re in the situation of being in the leader group, you never take this risk. You copy the others, and that’s what Carlos said and did.”

As for Carlos Sainz, who was overtaken by Oscar Piastri during the second stop, Vasseur thinks that decisions on a drying track are always a gamble, a lap or two apart, and only the driver’s feel matters in making a choice.

“In these conditions, it’s often the driver who controls the situation. Because what we can give, if it’s more than a lap, is the lap time of others. But if it’s a lap too late or a lap too early, we can give them indications about the situation.”

“But it’s certain that after the race, one could say it would have been better for [Lando] Norris and for Carlos to have pitted a lap earlier. But I can’t bring my crystal ball to the pit wall.”

Ferrari's Early Pit Stop Strategy Backfires

Ferrari’s Early Pit Stop Strategy Backfires Ferrari’s Early Pit Stop Strategy Backfires

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