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Ferrari explain latest strategic gaffe that made Leclerc "one unhappy man"

Ferrari explain latest strategic gaffe that made Leclerc "one unhappy man"

F1 News

Ferrari explain latest strategic gaffe that made Leclerc "one unhappy man"

Ferrari explain latest strategic gaffe that made Leclerc "one unhappy man"

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies has explained the Russian roulette weather gamble that cost Charles Leclerc in qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix.

The Scuderia had already irked Leclerc in Q1 when they dallied over its tyre choice at one stage when he entered the pits for a change, with the Monégasque making a late scramble to get into the second session.

At the start of Q3, with the wet-dry-wet nature of the afternoon testing the strategic ability of all the teams, Ferrari sent out Leclerc on intermediates believing rain was again poised to strike.

In stark contrast, the other remaining nine drivers were all on softs, leaving Ferrari's pit wall again red-faced as lap times were set, forcing Leclerc to ultimately pit for slicks.

Unluckily for Leclerc, just as he embarked on his first timed lap, Mercedes' George Russell crashed into a gravel trap, sparking a red flag.

During the intervening lull, the rain arrived, ensuring no driver could improve on their time, leaving Haas' Kevin Magnussen taking a shock pole and Leclerc starting 10th for the 100-kilometre sprint.

Analysing Ferrari's session, Mekies said: "It was a difficult qualifying as it was very intense for all teams, the sort of qualifying where you need to make a lot of calls.

"Some of the ones we made worked, some worked less, so altogether it is a bit frustrating because we got both cars into Q3 when we were confronted with a tough choice.

"On one side you have the track still being dry, on the other side we were expecting heavy rain imminently.

"At the end of the day, we split our cars so you always know, at that very moment when your cars are going out, that depending on the exact timing of the rain there is going to be one happy man and one unhappy man.

"And that's exactly what happened. The rain came probably a minute too late for Charles, and it was probably the right timing for Carlos.

"Altogether, it is the way it is - P5 and P10. It's the start of a long weekend, so we will be fighting back to get better places."

Ferrari insist steps will be made

Mekies has confirmed the team spoke to both drivers post-qualifying to outline why certain calls were made.

Not for the first time this season, Ferrari has insisted lessons will be learned.

"We have had very many qualifyings this year, including in very tricky conditions like here," added Mekies.

"On days like this, there is always a lot to learn, about the right decisions to make, about the less-right decisions to make.

"Certainly, it is something that we have taken the good habits to analyse in detail, with the teams, the drivers, altogether, to always look at operating throughout the groups.

"For sure, we will use this to make another step together."

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