Ferrari strategy branded "comical" after Sainz call and Leclerc crash
Ferrari fans have had enough of the team's bizarre strategy decisions after a hugely disappointing French Grand Prix.
The Prancing Horse had looked set for a considerable haul of points going into the afternoon after Charles Leclerc qualified on pole at Paul Ricard. But the Monegasque driver suffered a huge blow to his title ambitions when he crashed out of the race on lap 18.
Although Leclerc admitted that it was his mistake that led to the crash – not that of his team – it summed up Ferrari's problems where reliability is concerned this season. And while the Scuderia were not to blame for Leclerc's miserable afternoon, they had questions to answer regarding Carlos Sainz.
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Sainz started the race from 19th but worked his way up to 3rd and within five seconds of Lewis Hamilton in second with the aid of a safety car following his team-mate's crash. But all that good work was undone when Ferrari chose to bring him in to change his tyres and serve a five-second time penalty with six laps remaining – a decision they informed Sainz about while he was attempting to overtake Sergio Perez.
The Spaniard remerged in 9th after a needless 42-second pit stop, prompting Sky Sports F1 commentator Paul Di Resta to ask: "Have they not just thrown away a third place?"
"I am scratching my head on that one," replied Sky Sports F1 colleague David Croft.
Sainz recovered to finish 5th, but to those watching, it seemed as though Ferrari threw away the chance for Sainz to finish third – and potentially second – with a bizarre strategy call.
One person wrote: "Ferrari strategy leaked: No matter what, do everything in your power to make sure we don’t win a wdc. Ever." As someone else said: "F***ing Ferrari AGAIN. The pain in Charles voice in that radio message. Ferrari Strategy again for bringing Carlos in when he’s in P3 and he’s now in P6."
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A third person added: "Ferrari really need this summer break, it’s borderline comical now some of these strategy decisions." A fourth user commented: "Ferrari would honestly be better off if they just copied the default strategy from the F1 game for every race."
As another angry fan waded in with: "Ferrari just needs to replace everyone on their strategy team. Like wtf were y’all thinking with that Sainz pit stop at the end of the race?"
Others tweeted out memes of the Ferrari pit wall dressed as clowns. It capped a miserable afternoon for the Italian constructor, who continue to be their own worst enemy.
However, they were not to blame for Leclerc's crash, with the 24-year-old star confirming afterwards that his trip into the barriers was down to driver error.
"Mistake. I am performing at the highest level of my career but if I keep the mistakes then it is pointless. If we lose the championship by 32 points I will know where they are coming from but it is unacceptable," he said.
"I go through the same process all the time and try to analyse. It is a mistake and that is it. It is trying to push too much and I lost the rear. It has been a very difficult weekend for me, I struggled with the balance of the car.
"I did a mistake at the wrong moment."
Leclerc is now 63 points behind Verstappen in the drivers' championship after the Dutchman's win in France, while Ferrari now find themselves 78 points adrift of Red Bull in the constructors' championship.
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