Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto defended Charles Leclerc’s late pit-stop at the Belgian Grand Prix, saying the team will not stop taking a “brave” approach to strategy decisions.
Leclerc appeared to be set for fifth position before pitting for fresh tyres on the penultimate lap.
The decision was supposed to allow Leclerc to go for the extra point for the fastest lap of the race but he emerged from his stop just in front of Fernando Alonso, who got past him at the Kemmel Straight.
Although Leclerc reclaimed the position on the final lap at the same point of the circuit he failed to set the fastest lap.
Alonso, who raced for Ferrari between 2010 and 2014, couldn’t help having a dig at his former team for the call.
“I was surprised,” Alonso said after the race about Leclerc’s late stop. “But Ferrari always does some strange strategy, so that was one of those!”
After the race Leclerc was relegated to sixth for speeding in the pit-lane, meaning he not only failed to score the fastest lap but also squandered two extra points by dropping from fifth to sixth.
Binotto defended the logic behind the call.
“You need to be brave in F1,” he said in a media Zoom call on Sunday evening. “There was an opportunity for us to get the fast lap and there was the margin on Fernando to stop and to try to go for it I think was the right decision.
“We knew it would have been very close to Fernando, it was just losing the position, but we knew we could have overtook him back we had the fresher tyres and that could have helped in terms of DRS and top-line speed on the main straight.”
He later added: “I think overall it has been an unlucky situation and we should not stop deciding to be brave to go for a fast lap when conditions are there to go for it.”
Leclerc had started in 15th, behind eventual winner Max Verstappen, and had been following the Red Bull driver’s charge through the field until he was forced to make an early unscheduled stop due to a brake duct issue.
Binotto said that same issue later caused the Leclerc’s pit-lane speed infraction.
“The reason we overspeed is simply we were borderline, I think it was 0.1kph of the average speed in the pit-lane.
“Unlucky… We were not using our normal sensors measuring the speed because they have failed during the overheating of the front-right.”