On the eve of the Monaco weekend, Ferrari’s expectations were clearly different, with the not so hidden dream of aiming for pole and victory. On the contrary, however, the Reds came out of Monte Carlo with a sixth and an eighth place which clearly cannot leave us satisfied, above all because the surprise Esteban Ocon is on the third step of the podium.
A missed opportunity, also thanks to the penalty remedied on Saturday by Charles Leclerc for having hindered Lando Norris in the tunnel, which cost him three positions on the starting grid, further complicating the chances of finishing in third place.
Well aware that Alpine would have tried to keep the group together to prevent any of the rivals from making a stop at the right moment, in the first part of the race Sainz tried to overtake on the track, however also coming into contact with the Frenchman in an attempt at detached at the exit of the tunnel. An episode which, fortunately, did not have a clear effect on the Spaniard’s performance, allowing him to continue without the need to stop to replace the winger.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
To try to gain the strategic position, on several occasions he tried to bluff Alpine by pretending to recall Sainz, but Alpine never fell into the trap, waiting for the others to make the first move. Hamilton’s stop changed the cards on the table, prompting the others to react, starting with Ocon himself, who was stopped to cover his opponents.
Sainz did not stop immediately, but remained out for one more lap of the transalpine with the hope of being able to conclude an overcut. However, having to react to Hamilton’s pit stop, Ferrari in turn was unable to do anything but bring the Spaniard back into the pits, with the latter remaining perplexed, repeatedly asking for explanations via radio.
“It is difficult to get a clear picture. It was a bit of a chaotic race, but in the first stint I think the pace was good. Carlos tried to push a couple of times on Ocon, but got stuck behind him, with Alonso and Verstappen going away,” explained Frederic Vasseur at the end of the race.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
The Team Principal of the Reds was also asked if there was an opportunity to extend with Charles Leclerc, perhaps waiting for a Safety Car or the arrival of the rain: “We had to cover the others on the track in order not to lose the position. It’s always easy to talk after the race, that we could extend the tire when it started to rain, but at that moment we didn’t know yet, we didn’t want to lose the position. Same thing for Carlos when he asked why we didn’t extend, but there was a risk of losing the position to Hamilton. And on a track like Monaco, even if you have better tyres, if you’re behind you stay behind”.
After coming back behind Ocon again, being able to recover the position became increasingly difficult. This is why Ferrari tried to make a different decision from his rivals when the rain arrived, which had wet the second sector at that time, but hadn’t impacted the other two intermediate times. While Ocon returned to the pits, the two Prancing Horse riders stayed out for an additional lap which, clearly, proved to be a choice that did not bear the desired results, so much so that Sainz spun in really critical conditions.
“We were stuck behind with no possibility of overtaking, then when the rain came we decided to take a risk. We were fifth and sixth at the time, we could have been seventh or third, so we took a risk.”
“We lost one place to Russell because he extended the first stint. We expected that maybe the track could get wet, but maybe we could have finished on the podium, it was a bet for us. In the end we didn’t lose any positions, but that’s how it went, we know we have to take risks to get results. I’m not disappointed.”
“The conditions were very difficult to manage because the weather forecast didn’t look so bad. We can’t blame him (Sainz), there were a couple of crashes, even Russell went off. That’s how she went,” Vasseur added.
After the Monaco race, Formula 1 will return to a more traditional circuit, that of Barcelona, which this season will no longer feature the chicane in the last sector to return to the old configuration with a double left-hander. Ferrari will introduce some innovations on the Spanish track, but not a new front suspension, which the Team Principal has denied: “There will be no updates regarding the front suspension”.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
The goal for the Barcelona round is first of all to build a good qualifying and, secondly, to work to improve the pace in the race, especially in terms of consistency. “Let’s go back to a normal track. In yesterday’s qualifying the pace was good and we have to do it again in Barcelona. We will bring updates to the car which we hope will give us something more in terms of performance and let’s see what we can do.
“Often it wasn’t tire degradation, but rather a lack of performance during the race. We hope to solve it.” Vasseur added when asked if tire degradation could be a concern for the next Grand Prix. “The pace in qualifying is good, we have to work to be more consistent in the race, that’s the goal.”