Charles Leclerc says Ferrari need to “get better” in every department after a shocking strategy cost him the chance of winning the Hungarian Grand Prix and cutting his F1 championship deficit.
Fresh questions about Ferrari’s strategic calls were raised in Hungary after the decision to fit Leclerc’s car with hard tyres saw the team throw away a potential win and open the door for Max Verstappen to snatch an unlikely victory and further extend his title lead.
Leclerc, who eventually finished sixth after making a third pit stop to get rid of the hards, raged about the decision over team radio during the race as he called his tyres “shit”. He later described Ferrari’s decision to put him on the hard compound as a “disaster”.
“We need to speak with the team and understand the thought behind putting the hard tyre on because I felt very strong with the medium,” Leclerc told Sky.
“Everything was under control and for some reason, I don’t know why, we went on the hards.
“I said on the radio that I was comfortable on the medium and I wanted to go for as long as possible on those tyres, because the feeling was good. I don’t know why we took a different decision.
“Honestly the pace on my side, I was pretty happy. The only thing is obviously everyone will remember the last part of the race where it was a disaster for me, especially with the hards.
“That’s where I lost the race basically. I lost 20 seconds with the pit, another six seconds on five laps on the hard because I was just all over the place on the tyre.
“We’ll speak about it inside the team and how to get better.”
Ferrari’s car ‘not working as expected’
Team boss Mattia Binotto said Ferrari’s car was “not working as expected” in the race as he explained the Italian outfit’s thinking behind the decision to switch Leclerc onto the hard tyre.
“I think it is important to say that we believe that the car was not working as expected and we didn’t have the speed we were hoping to looking back on Friday and the race today,” said Binotto.
“So today was certainly different conditions and they got cooler, but overall the speed today was not great enough and whatever tyres we were using, I don’t think we were as good as we were looking for.
“And certainly it was the same with the hard, so when we fitted the hard our simulation was that it would be a difficult couple of laps of warm up, they would have been slower than the mediums for 10 or 11 laps but then they would have come back by the end of the stint – and it was a 30-lap stint.
“So we fitted the hard tyres at the time because it was a 30-lap stint and we were trying to protect position on Max and it would have been too long certainly on the soft. Our choice and our analysis was, yes, it would be difficult at the start of the stint but it would come back by the end.
“Overall, the tyres didn’t work. I know they were not working well on other cars, but I think the analysis we made was based on the data we had and I think, as I said before, the main reason is not to look into the strategy but why the car was not as good as we were hoping today. I
“It was the first time this year that the car was not as competitive as we are normally looking for, and it was the case as well with Carlos because he was on exactly the same strategy as Lewis and started ahead but finished behind, and Lewis went on to finish second.
“So the car today was not performing well. And when the car is not performing, it doesn’t make the tyres work as they should and certainly not the hard tyres.”
Asked if he felt the race was winnable, Binotto replied: “I don’t think so. What we were lacking today was really speed and pace.
“I don’t think we could have won today. And the reason I don’t know, because it was the first time in the first 13 races where we didn’t have the speed somehow to be there for the victory.
“You need to first look into that performance wise to understand, and I’m pretty sure when we understand that we will understand why the tyres were not working properly.”