Mattia Binotto believes Ferrari made the correct calls at all points of the British Grand Prix despite Charles Leclerc going from the lead to fourth place late on.
Leclerc damaged his front wing on the opening lap but still had more pace than teammate Carlos Sainz for the majority of the race, and was regularly asking Ferrari to get Sainz to speed up as the pair ran one-two but with Lewis Hamilton closing in.
Eventually the two cars swapped positions but then Sainz made a stop during a late safety car – as almost the entire rest of the field did – while Leclerc was left out in the lead on hard tires and slipped back to fourth in the closing laps.
“Firstly it has been a very intense race, I think you saw that,” Binotto said. “We knew it would be very intense because the fight was very tight.
“Earlier in the race we were leading with both cars, Charles had a bit more pace. Carlos started having degradation on his tires, which is why we pitted him earlier to Charles … but we were always monitoring the gap to Hamilton, and whenever Hamilton was coming in it would have been behind us, and that is exactly what happened.
“So we had the right pace on hard tires with our two drivers, we kept monitoring it, and when we saw it was marginal we simply asked to swap the cars.
“We swapped the cars because we saw, believed and I think we were right that Charles had some more pace and it would have been the case that by getting Charles ahead, Carlos would be in the slipstream and DRS and could up his pace.
“I think we did well, I think we did well as a team and they did very well as drivers.
“There was no discussions. I think it is not easy to do that unless you do it properly and I think it was well done to the entire team and the drivers, so we swapped and then Charles was ahead.
“Then we were clearly leading the race and it is obviously disappointing for Charles with the safety car at the end with Ocon stopping in the middle of the track – I think he could have stopped somewhere else, because there was time to stop somewhere else, but he stopped there.
“Here what happened was our two cars were too close to stop both of them, so we had to take a decision. We were the only one with two cars fighting for the good position, the other teams had one car and certainly the decisions are a lot easier. In our case we had the two cars and there was not a sufficient gap to stop both of them because the second would have lost time at the pit stop and fallen back.
“So why then by deciding to stop one did we stop Carlos? Because Charles had the track position and was leading, so he would have remained the leader of the race. Because his tires were fresher than the ones of Carlos, I think six or seven laps less than the ones of Carlos and in better shape. And Carlos by stopping and still being second, he would have stopped the others, at least in the first couple of corners when we knew starting on the hard would be the most difficult.
“So that was the reason we decided. And then we were hoping for more tire degradation on the soft to give Charles maybe a difficult three or four laps initially but recovering later on, but the soft didn’t degrade as we were hoping.”
The Ferrari team principal also hit back at critics who stated Ferrari gave away a chance to make up significant ground on Verstappen by not prioritizing Leclerc as the lead driver in the championship, as Leclerc gained back six points rather than the 19 he would have recovered had he won.
“What would they have done differently? I think the decision we took was the right one, the proper one, each single time. Should we have stopped at the safety car is maybe the only one we are questioning, I think. If we would have stopped him maybe the others would have stayed out and he would have maybe been fourth on soft tires.
“On the other side, would he have been able to recover the position? Not sure. I think that obviously with hindsight it’s easy to say that we could have done (something) differently. Once again we have a safety car at the wrong moment when we are leading the race comfortably.”