From a strategic point of view, the 2021 Portuguese GP took place mainly by trying with the undercuts, which in reality were not very powerful, due to the difficulty of getting the compounds up to temperature. Especially on the out lap immediately after the pit-stop, the drivers had a lot of difficulty warming up the compounds. Therefore, the driver attempting the undercut had only one lap to attack. Precisely when the competitor came out of the pit lane with cold compound.
On the front of the battle which interests us, that between McLaren and Ferrar, we find similar steps. In qualifying we said that the Italian team still seems to have something more than the car as compared to the Woking team. Especially since McLaren seems to be a little lost on Fridays. In both stints Charles Leclerc managed to keep a better pace than Norris. In the first the Monegasque had an average advantage of just 1 tenth, confirmed also in the second part of the race. Different compounds are mounted. In the first part of the race Charles used the Medium , while Lando the Soft. In the second stint, the Monegasque used the Hard with a rather high temperature window, while the Englishman preferred to drive the yellow-banded Pirelli. Looking only at the data, it would seem that Charles Leclerc did better than the British during the course of the race. However, the final outcome is different. This factor is quickly explained. Lando, just like in Imola, was very shrewd. Taking advantage of the restart after the Safety Car, managing to bring the Soft compound to temperatures faster, he puts the Ferrari driver behind.
Carlos Sainz’s race was uphill. Although in the first part of the race the Spaniard had the same pace as Charles Leclerc but was using the Soft tyre, when Ferrari put the number 55 with a Medium train the ordeal began. The Spaniard pushed hard during the first few laps and this undoubtedly shortened the life of the tire. However, the bad performance of the average on the SF21 will need to be studied in depth, thanks to the plenty data collected this weekend. Undoubtedly, the choice to use the yellow band Pirellis on the Iberian’s car was not a lucky one. In this respect we can make a consideration.
With the feedback of Charles Leclerc in the first stint with his hands, where the Monegasque despite the good pace struggled a lot with the car, complaining often in radio, the Ferrari pit-wall could have had enough indications to decide for the Hard. A less risky choice also considering that, making the stop on lap 22, there were still 44 laps to be played. In the second stint the Iberian was able to put laps only of about 1:23. A pace which was similar with that of Pierre Gasly on the Hard. Ultimately Scuderia Ferrari showed great difficulty in activating the yellow band compounds.