Ferrari won a race at Silverstone on Sunday for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix in early April. Only the wrong driver won, while the Italian team had the chance to get Charles Leclerc closer to World Cup leader Max Verstappen. Carlos Sainz was chosen, or rather not chosen at all.
“I had the feeling that I was faster the whole race”, a despondent Leclerc looked back afterwards. “But after I was not brought in during the safety car, it became a difficult story.”
The Monegask was of course referring to round 37 of the British Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon stopped his car on the old Silverstone straight. The safety car came onto the track. “With fifteen laps to go, it made sense to go for softs,” Sainz analyzed afterwards. Ferrari thought so too, but the team kept Leclerc out.
The fear was mainly in losing track position to Lewis Hamilton, who was third on fresher hard tires at the time.
“We thought there was not enough room for them both to stop,” explained Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. “And we had a car in the lead with Charles.” Leclerc indeed had that lead, but behind him he saw all the cars plunge into the pits. “I had already passed the pit lane entrance when I realized that.”
Carlos Sainz for Charles Leclerc.
Sainz refused to help Leclerc
From that moment on, the number three in the World Cup position could forget the victory. Sainz soon overtook Leclerc after the restart, after the Spaniard had previously refused to give his team-mate some space as the Monegask got the field moving again. His engineer gave him the order, but Sainz refused to cooperate.
It was the example of a continued lack of determination at Ferrari, and the team’s difficulty in clearly imposing the will of the pit wall on the drivers. With the problems for Verstappen, it was a great opportunity for Leclerc to make up nineteen points. It became six.
It was also clear earlier in the race that Leclerc should have been given priority. “I had a lot of understeer and lost time every lap,” Sainz admitted afterwards. Leclerc was faster despite damage to his front wing, but failed to convince his team that the leading Spaniard had to give way. It gave the impression that the drivers’ title race is no longer a priority for Ferrari.
It seemed as if Ferrari wanted to give Hamilton the victory as a gift
As Hamilton approached, Sainz was only admonished to drive faster. The pit wall also brought in the Madrileen first, so that Leclerc ended up behind his teammate after his pit stop. Again there was a play on words, and again Sainz didn’t have the speed. In the end the team gave in and the leader had to give way.
After that, Leclerc immediately picked up the pace and an unexpected victory for Hamilton was further away, while before the intervention it seemed as if Ferrari wanted to give the home favorite the victory.
Leclerc showed with action at Hamilton that Ferrari should bet on him
The safety car threw a spanner in the works for Leclerc. Sainz did get the new tires and then did what he had to do. Leclerc had no choice but to defend himself tooth and nail, with the 25-year-old driver showing that he is the man Ferrari should bet on in the title fight.
With an impressive action outside Hamilton in the lightning-fast Copse corner, the Monegask illustrated that once again. While Verstappen can tell him that such a maneuver is not without risk.
The World Cup leader himself smiled afterwards, despite a seventh place. Normally, Verstappen is already the boss of the red cars. But if it goes wrong, the Italians still make it difficult for themselves. An attack on the reigning world champion is therefore not forthcoming. The championship is really crying out for a truly competitive Mercedes.