Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has insisted that there was no risk involved in keeping Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc on old intermediate tyres and attempt to get to the end of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, before eventually deciding to make a pit stop for fresh compounds at the Istanbul Park.
Charles Leclerc started the race in third place and kept his position for most of the event, before taking the lead when Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas stopped on laps 36 and 37. At that stage, the Monegasque asked if he was able to run to the end without stopping but after being overtaken easily by the Mercedes of Bottas, Ferrari called him in to change the old Intermediate tyres.
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon was the only one who finished the Turkish Grand Prix on one set of tyres, but his lap times slowed dramatically late in the final laps of the Istanbul event, which showed that stopping was the ideal tyre strategy.
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto feels the Maranello team made the correct decision to initially stay out, explaining that the data it had available – including analysis of the tyres from Carlos Sainz’s car – all pointed towards that being the better strategy.
“We had the pit stop done on Carlos and we knew how much rubber was left on his tyres at that moment and knowing that data we believed that we could have finished the race, in terms of being safe. So we knew that in terms of safety all the conditions were there. Then it was a matter of performance, and as Charles said, at the time when we stayed out the performance was still ok but then the track changed so we had to come in.” – the Ferrari boss added.
Looking back at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc admitted that he felt “no regrets” regarding the bold strategy despite missing out on the podium. Upon reflection, the Monegasque driver feels he would have struggled to make it to the end had the team not brought him in.
“It would have been very difficult without stopping. The rear tyres were very difficult to handle in the last four laps before my pit stop. That’s why we did the pit stop. I struggled a lot with rear locking and that pushed me to do a few mistakes, so I don’t know [where I would have finished without a stop] but I don’t think better than where we finished with the pit stop.” – Charles concluded.