For Charles Leclerc, the United States Grand Prix quickly turned from a dream into a nightmare. After his pole position on Friday and a podium finish in the Sprint Race, during the race, the team decided to take a risk with him that, in the end, didn’t pay off. The one-stop strategy, chosen due to tire degradation in the short race and the first stint, saw the pole-sitter slide down to sixth position, followed by a disqualification for technical reasons.
Therefore, in the latest issue of Autosprint, Carlo Vanzini sought to find some positives in Ferrari’s plan, comparing the COTA event to that of the Hungaroring in 2022: “A year ago, after the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc leading and then finishing sixth due to a wrong strategic choice, Ferrari’s response was ‘enough talk about strategies.’ Just over a year later, with a similar situation, Leclerc going from pole position to sixth, the response is ‘we got the strategy wrong.’ A decisive change in direction in different circumstances from a still possible championship fight last season to a championship that was over before it began this year. If a year ago, the mistake weighed like a millstone, this time it matters in terms of this season, which is of little or no significance in sporting terms, but crucial not to make the same mistake next year.”
“Ferrari was the only one who couldn’t afford to take risks.”
According to the journalist, what should be condemned is the correlation between the data collected during the sessions and the final decision. The SF23, in fact, lacks the technical advantage of its rivals, who are continuously introducing updates. Therefore, there is a need to exploit every aspect of the race to achieve the best possible result. “Taking some risks is acceptable, but it is less acceptable when it is evident from the sprint race that among all the teams, Ferrari was the only one that had the least chance of making a single pit stop. Ferrari now pays for having a stagnant car that cannot be developed like McLaren and Mercedes. It can only be improved with track setup work, but to make a significant improvement, they hope to wait for a complete chassis change. So what does it have to lose now? Not finishing second in the constructors’ championship? Nothing, in fact, the more you finish behind in the constructors’ championship, the more hours you can use in the wind tunnel for a kind of balance of performance,” Carlo Vanzini pointed out at the end of the United States Grand Prix in Austin.
As for the drivers, there is no doubt that the Monegasque driver had a better pace than his Maranello teammate at the Circuit of the Americas, and once again, the final result does not reflect the verdict of the track as much as that of the stewards.
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Scuderia Ferrari is now called upon to support number 16 with the right people to prevent his talent from fading behind recent defeats: “So off to new adventures, with more motivation for Carlos Sainz: staying ahead of Charles Leclerc in the championship and trying to improve his best-ever fifth-place finish by attempting to overtake another motivation, Fernando Alonso. For Charles Leclerc, it’s a bit more challenging. For someone who secures poles like that, seeing that he can’t compete in the race, partly due to his less than perfect start, well, it’s tough to digest. But what can he do? Nothing except build a supportive team around him, worthy of his talent, to help him grow even further in challenging times. He’s at risk of becoming one of the biggest regrets in modern Formula 1, but his love for Ferrari goes beyond everything, and it’s up to him to make sure that when the car is there, as he has already shown, he will be there to compete, with all the pieces in place in the roles of those around him.” – the Italian journalist concluded.