Ferrari certainly took some heat on Saturday but certainly not in their tires or brakes…in their qualifying strategy. The team left Charles Leclerc in the late in the Q1 session while other drivers threw down quicker laps and this eliminated the young Monaco-raised driver from the rest of qualifying for his home grand prix.
Ferrari had misjudged the target time needed to move through to Q2 and in doing so, left Leclerc on the back foot for the race Sunday starting in 16th. His teammate narrowly made it into Q2 and had a spate of wall-glancing runs to finish qualifying in 4th.
This started a cavalcade of criticism from F1 fans and media pundits but Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto, offered these reasons for their gamble on Saturday.
“We are facing a situation where we need to catch up points in the championship and when you need to catch up you need to take some risks as well,” he said. “By taking margin on everything we are doing. In the case of today, taking margin would mean to use a second set of tyres, to miss a set of tyres for Q2 and Q3.
“Today we took some risks to perform as well as we could in Q2 and Q3 against our competitors. But there is no doubt, when you look at that, the implication of entering into Q2 is even bigger than trying to challenge them in the final part of qualifying in Q3.”
The team were hoping to save a set of tires by not running another lap in Q1 but it didn’t work and this left Leclerc red-faced and asking for answers saying that it was “very difficult to take.”
“It is not a good day for us certainly,” said the Italian. “I think we made a mistake. It has been a misjudgement, a wrong evaluation of what we call the cut-off time. The cut-off time is the threshold by when we believed we are comfortable to get into the next session.
“The cut-off time is calculated in real-time based on what we see on the track. When the cut-off time is calculated, we normally add a margin on top of it and the margin is good enough to afford for any tolerances, uncertainty, whatever might happen during the session normally.
“Certainly what happened today was the margin we applied was not sufficient. There are two reasons – the first is the track improvement has been very significant by the end of Q1. The second is that probably our margin did not considering enough variability due to drivers’ maybe confidence by driving through Monaco.
“Certainly in Monaco, that margin needs to be increased in future no doubt.”
Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle suggested as much by suggesting that this data-driven sport provides good information to make decisions on but at some point, you have to be a rcer and know when to do the basic things instead of relying too heavily on data that just doesn’t prove accurate due to variables that are happening that the human mind can process and offer immediate permutations to adjusts for. Binotto agreed that they need to look at their process.
Binotto said the team “should have overruled” the data but “we didn’t”. He said:
“When you’ve got tools and simulations, you should trust what you are doing.”
“We’ve got the right people,” he said. “We’ve got the right procedures, but we need to improve our tools. We are open to new opportunities of looking at what we did and how we may do it differently in the future. It is something we will address from the next race onwards, no doubt.”
Trying to play catch means you have to be aggressive but your aggression has to be accurate.
Hat Tip: F1.com