Monaco Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc finally finished his home race but after starting on pole, Ferrari strategy mistakes knocked him off the podium.
After such a good start to the weekend with Ferrari looking strong through the practices, Leclerc took pole position for his home race for the second year running, though this time he made it through the whole of the qualifying session with his car intact.
The Monegasque has had incredibly bad luck at his home event, failing to finish in any of the F1 or F2 races that he competed in around the streets of the Principality, but was hopeful on Saturday afternoon that “ we have a clean race tomorrow and we finally have a good result at home.”
Despite the disruption at the start, with the heavy rain, the start being postponed and then red flagged after a couple of laps behind the Safety Car, Leclerc had been doing everything right at the front of the field. However, once Ferrari called him in to follow the Red Bull strategy and swap from full wet tyres to intermediates the race lead was out of his hands and further strategy missteps dropped him off the podium completely.
“It was a freaking disaster today,” Leclerc said. “The win was clearly in our hands: we had the performance, we had everything. I just don’t really understand the call that I had and I need explanations for now.”
While discussion between Ferrari and Carlos Sainz regarding which tyres to go to – Sainz wanting to hold out on the wets until the move to dry tyres could be made rather than pitting earlier for intermediates – no radio between Leclerc and Ferrari was heard though the Monegasque said afterwards that he felt the same as his teammate and couldn’t understand what made the team change their mind and make the first of their mistakes.
“Sometimes mistakes can happen but there’s been too many mistakes today overall,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1 afterwards. “And in those conditions you rely a little bit on what the team can see because you don’t see what the others are doing with intermediates, with dry tyres.
“I’ve been asked questions whether I wanted to go from extreme wet to the slicks and I said “yes, but not now it will be a bit later on in the race” but I don’t understand what made us change our mind and go on these intermediates. We got undercut and then I stopped behind Carlos.
“I think the first one was a very clear decision, and a very wrong one, and from that moment onwards the mess started. Obviously the message that I had, the last one, wasn’t clear because I was told to come in but then to stay out. I was already in the pitlane and that’s where I basically let it all out on the radio and screamed because I just couldn’t do anything and I knew that I was done.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 29, 2022
Aside from having yet another disappointment at home, the Ferrari driver knows that to put a championship challenge together, you have to maximise your points every weekend and throwing away the lead with silly strategy is not the way to do it.
“It’s hard, as it’s been the other years here. I’m getting used to getting back home disappointed but we cannot do that, especially in the moment that we are in now – we are extremely strong, our pace is strong – we need to take those opportunities, we cannot lose so many points like this.
“It’s not even from first to second, it’s from first to fourth because after the first mistake we did another one. So, I love my team and I’m sure that we will come back stronger. It hurts a lot.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 29, 2022