Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has countered Carlos Sainz’s criticism of the team’s Monaco strategy, saying the right decision was made for the Spaniard’s race given the circumstances at the time.
Sainz damaged his front wing early in the 78-lap race, attacking Alpine’s Esteban Ocon for third in the chicane. But the Scuderia driver – who started the race on the hard tire – chose to push further given the limited impact of the contact.
But when Ocon pitted after 32 laps, Sainz was called in by Ferrari a lap later. The Spaniard hoped to overtake his rival by extending his stint on hard surfaces.
Instead, he chased Ocon again when he got back on track.
A furious Sainz vented his frustration to his crew over the radio, but was told the call was made to protect his position from Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in fifth place, which was gaining an advantage over Ferrari.
“I don’t care about Hamilton,” Sainz joked. “It’s weak!”
Spaniard regretted his radio outburst after the race but said Ferrari should be ‘a little more patient’
However, Vasseur begged to be different, the Frenchman explaining after the race that Sainz would likely lose out to Hamilton if he extended his stint on the hard tyre.
“I think it was a good strategy because when we asked him to pit, he was aiming to avoid losing a position against Hamilton,” said the Scuderia boss.
“Positions are crucial at this track. It would have been better if we weren’t threatened by Hamilton, but in this situation I think it was a good choice.
“It’s always easy to repeat the race after 5:30 and say, ‘OK, if you extend the stint, you can change tires when it rains,’ added Vasseur.
“But at that stage we didn’t know, and we were in a situation where we could have lost ground compared to our competitors.”
As it turned out, Ferrari lost a second time when they decided to keep Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc out on track as a light drizzle in the final stage of the race moistened part of the track.
The pair pitted for the intermediates a lap later than their direct rivals, but meanwhile Sainz pulled off the track at Mirabeau, which fell from the Spaniard on P5 to P8 when all was said and done while Leclerc saved P6.
Vasseur admitted that the call to stay on slicks was risky, but one he felt was “worth taking”.
“We expected that the track wouldn’t be so wet and that if we didn’t have to put wet tires (tires) we could get a podium finish,” he explained.
“It was a gamble for us, the risk wasn’t too high because we didn’t lose positions. But it is what it is.
“At the start, we knew perfectly well that if we wanted to achieve something, we had to take risks. I’m not at all disappointed with the risk we took.”
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