A few days have now gone by since Sunday at the Paul Ricard circuit, but despite the Hungarian GP weekend is fast approaching – the last race scheduled on the Formula 1 calendar before the summer break – the minds of all fans are still focused on what happened on the French track. In particular, Ferrari and Charles Leclerc are at the center of attention for yet another wasted opportunity in a race in which the Monegasque driver was in the lead. At the Circuit de Catalunya and at the Baku City Circuit, Charles also ended the races with a DNF next to his name, due to power unit failures, but this time it was a driving error that was decisive and resulted in a retirement.
The Monegasque was leading the French Grand Prix with a 27-second advantage ahead of Max Verstappen – who had just stopped for his tyre change – when he lost control of his car at turn 11, finishing the afternoon against the protective barriers of the Le Castellet circuit. At a strategic level Max Verstappen, who in the first part of the race had come very close to Charles Leclerc without being able to overtake him, had made a very early stop, looking for the undercut on his Ferrari rival.
Many thought that the Ferrari driver’s mistake was also due to the race situation in which he found himself: that is, being forced to push hard to directly cover Max Verstappen’s pitstop on a track on which anticipating the tyre change usually guarantees a significant advantage in terms of lap time compared to those who stay out longer.
In reality, however, Ferrari head of race strategy Iñaki Rueda denied that the Maranello team’s strategy was that of ‘man marking’ Max Verstappen. Conversely, Ferrari intended to differentiate Charles Leclerc’s race plan, maintaining the pit stop window scheduled at the start of a Grand Prix. “Charles was ready to ignore Max Verstappen and concentrate on making his best race – explained Inaki Rueda in the usual analysis video released by Ferrari – we are quite confident that, without going off the track, Charles would have made the pit stop five-six laps later and he would have had the pace to catch up on Verstappen and overtake him, going on to win the race”. A courageous strategy, similar to the one Scuderia Ferrari had successfully applied (with several stops) in Austria, securing the race win with Charles Leclerc.
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