By James Broughton, July 4, 2022
Charles Leclerc didn’t give away anything at the 2022 British Grand Prix, he fought like a lion despite being disadvantaged in the latter stages of the race. Indeed Leclerc was in a prime position to win however a late safety car, and wrong strategy call turned Leclerc into a spectator. From the outside looking in it appeared as though Ferrari prioritized Carlos Sainz who was focused and determined to win his first race. But it was Leclerc who had the better race pace. So what happened?
Leclerc was in the lead having been let through on lap 31 by teammate Sainz. A safety car was deployed on lap 39, and Ferrari elected to pit Sainz when they should have instructed Leclerc to pit under safety-car conditions. After all Leclerc is fighting for the driver’s championship, and Max Verstappen was off the pace in 7th due to floor damage.
Now was the time for Ferrari to make close the points gap between Leclerc and Verstappen which has grown to over 40 points. However, Ferrari decided not to call Leclerc in, and, in the end, he became a moving target, a sitting duck to those behind him on fresher tyres. Leclerc battled hard but ultimately dropped down to 4th.
The 2022 British Grand Prix was yet another strange strategy call from Ferrari, Monaco was the other, they opted to settle for 2nd with Sainz when they should have won with Leclerc. Red Bull must be scratching their heads because Ferrari is giving away points and it’s difficult to understand why.
My guess is that Ferrari saw an opportunity for Sainz to win his first Grand Prix and opened the gate for him while temporarily closing it for Leclerc. Going forwards, Sainz will almost certainly be instructed to play the role of the number two driver.
Ferrari has always favored one driver over the other, swinging towards the stronger talent. Leclerc was philosophical at the end, speaking to the media after the race he said;
“As much as I am disappointed on my side,” Leclerc said, “I don’t think this should be a headline on what is an amazing first victory on Carlos.”
“It’s a dream come true. Whenever you are a child, you dream of this moment, and especially with Ferrari. He needs to enjoy, it’s his day, and hopefully next time it will be my day.”