Frustrating end to an announced defeat. When Daniel Ricciardo parked his broken-down McLaren between Lesmo turns 1 and 2 on the 47th of 53 laps of the race at Monza on Sunday, Ferrari had long lost the race to Max Verstappen. But she harbored hopes of a last-minute turnaround, like the Dutchman from Red Bull last year in Abu Dhabi against Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Its pilot Charles Leclerc had just passed worn « soft » and had not said his last word against Super Max », shod in this same 48th lap of new « soft » Pirelli. To tell the truth, we do not know what it would have happened, but it is less Leclerc who would have won this Italian Grand Prix than Verstappen who would have lost it.
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But the race management at the FIA was slow to bring the safety car onto the track, its driver made a mistake by positioning it in front of the Mercedes of George Russell, rather than the leader car hit by the n°1, which makes the peloton waste time again. Finally, the latecomers were not even invited to get out of the pack, to overtake the safety car for the single-seaters in the order of classification, as the regulations require. The McLaren cleared, the FIA finally declared « Track clear » on lap 52, and it complied with the regulations by observing an additional lap under the safety car. The last…
« The FIA needs to do a better job »
On arrival, Mattia Binotto expressed his frustration on behalf of the Reds in the face of all these procrastination. Was it possible to do better?
« The safety car drove in ahead of George [Russell]he noted on Sky Sports. Even if she was in front of him, there was no reason not to let the cars pass between the safety car and the leader. Now we know there is a minimum lap time so it’s totally safe to release the cars. »
« Waiting that long is just badhe regretted. It’s not great for sports. After Abu Dhabi last year, we had a lot of discussions to improve this. The ultimate goal is to restart the race as soon as possible. The FIA has changed a lot in this area, but they need more experience and do a better job. F1 deserves this from this point of view. I do not agree that, in the rules, there is a minimum time to respect. »
On arrival, his Red Bull counterpart, Christian Horner, noted the same problem with the positioning of the safety car, and indicated that the teams would discuss it at a meeting on Monday.
A frustrating end to the race at Monza, Max Verstappen and the field finished the 2022 Italian GP under a safety car regime
Credit: Getty Images
« I did not understand the end of the race »
But everyone knows, Ferrari did not lose for that. Starting from pole position, Charles Leclerc held Max Verstappen at bay until he bet to return (for “medium”) during the virtual safety car session, on the 12th of 53 laps. A risky, early choice, which did not pay off. Firstly because he did not have the expected « free » stop, the neutralization having ended while he was still in the pitlane. Secondly because it has never been able, even with its « tender » new ones, to keep up with the rhythm of the RB18 n°1 in used « medium ». This one stopped in the 26th for « medium », which put « Charlot » back in the lead. Slowing down, the driver from the Principality had no choice but to pit a second time, on the 34th lap, to put on « medium » gear and consummate his defeat. Rejected at around twenty seconds, he was never even able to come back.
« With ifs, we could have done a lot of thingssighed Leclerc, on Canal +. Unfortunately when we got back the virtual safety car (VSC) ended so we lost the advantage of stopping. From then on, the race was complicated. I pushed until the end but it wasn’t enough. »
« Charlot » tried everything, and he is sure, the one-stop plan, so early, was not playable on Sunday. « I think it would have been very complicated, he said. Max was 0″6 – 0″7 faster, I think he would have arrived quite quickly (behind). It could have been a possibility if this VSC didn’t end in the middle of the pit lane, but there he was too close and would surely have passed us quite quickly. »
And to deplore, like his boss, this frozen end of the Grand Prix, admitting: « I did not understand the end of the race. For me, there was no reason for there to be another lap under safety car. »
The virtual safety car, a poisoned gift
“We left for a single stop, said Mattia Binotto on the French channel. We would have stopped on lap 20-25 depending on the tires. There, the safety car arrived… We noticed that Max had less degradation than us, so it would have been difficult to beat him on the same strategy. We thought: ‘Why not try to do something different? To stop during the virtual safety car and go through two stops ?’ That’s what we did. We had a bit of bad luck because the virtual safety car stopped while we were still in the pitlane. That lost us some potential advantage. But in general, I think Max was faster and it was difficult for us to beat him. We were still hoping for a safety car when the end of the race came. But the operations then made sure that we didn’t couldn’t restart the race. »
« Max was very fast once again, admitted the boss of Maranello. We would have liked to win. I think we did everything for that. Second and fourth, it’s still a good result if I think of the last races.Carlos [Sainz, parti 18e et arrivée 4e] also had a great race starting from behind, passing a lot of cars. He might even have finished on the podium if the race had resumed. In general it was a good race, better than the last ones. »
Starting from pole position, six rows ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc once again lost. “Max was even faster on Sunday. We will have to improve to try to win”concluded Mattia Binotto.
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