Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has revealed that he might have wanted the Safety Car to be deployed a little faster after Yuki’s Tsunoda’s crash at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Tsunoda had misjudged his braking on the dirty pit exit and went straight on into the barrier, leaving Ferrari to wonder if it was worth bringing leader Carlos Sainz into the pits.
Sainz had made a stop less than Max Verstappen after the Dutchman pitted under an early Virtual Safety Car, while the Spaniard had taken advantage of a later one.
The result was that Verstappen needed to pit again to make it to the end of the race, and he was bearing down on Sainz, who now had the older tyres.
The Safety Car was deployed right as the 27-year-old was about to enter the final corner, so he was just about able to swoop into the pits when it came out, leading to a mad rush from the Ferrari crew to get his tyres ready.
Had it been any later, Verstappen would have had easy pickings against a Ferrari car on dying tyres, with Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell threatening behind as well.
Binotto was not overly impressed by this, and called for sharper calls from race control.
“I think it took a very long time for the decision to send the Safety Car out onto the track,” he said.
“The Safety Car came when Carlos was just at the end of the long straight before the last corner.
“I think we only had one second to do that, and we reacted in that second.
“Without that good reaction, Carlos would have been in a very bad situation. And that also shows: we need good decisions from race control.”
The likelihood is that the Scuderia would have needed to box Sainz again anyway because, such was the state of his tyres that he might even have been caught by Hamilton had the Safety Car not been deployed.
As a result, the pit wall was weighing up whether to bring him in while they still had the window back to the Mercedes.
“That would have been very close,” explained Binotto.
“If he had to defend himself, he would have had to be very fast, at least in the region of 1:17.4 or 1:17.3, so we considered whether to stay out or pit against Lewis.
“But how the race would have turned out without the final safety car period is hard to say.”
Sainz, on his new tyres, pushed Verstappen extremely hard at the end of the race, but the reigning champion held on resolutely, earning his sixth victory of the year.
Sainz’s wait for a first win goes on, but he can take heart from the fact that, at times, he was the quickest driver out on track.
“This weekend I was quicker for the first time – I want to say all season, but for the first time in the championship,” said the Spaniard.
“I’ve been the fastest guy on track, both in the medium and on the hard. I was catching Max on both occasions and I felt comfortable with the car.
“I was all over the place, close to [the] walls, you know, with confidence – ragging it, and I felt comfortable out there so it’s a pity not to have got the first win.”
Verstappen’s win puts him 46 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Standings after the Mexican suffered a gearbox failure in Montreal.