1996 world champion Damon Hill has warned Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc against heavy criticism of his team after his disappointing Monaco Grand Prix result.
Leclerc’s Monaco curse continued on Sunday as he was cruelly denied victory from pole position by some terrible strategical errors.
The misjudgements on the pit wall saw him fall behind team-mate Carlos Sainz as well as both Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, and the Mexican went on to win the race while the 24-year-old ended off the podium.
He screamed “what are you doing?!” over the radio when his frustration boiled over, and affirmed that the Scuderia are making “too many mistakes” in his post-race interviews.
Hill completely understands the Monegasque’s anger, but he cautions that there are some things he should probably keep to himself to avoid disrupting the harmony at Maranello.
“I think given that he was on pole position, and he’s from Monaco, and he’s had so much bad luck at Monaco – he was well on course for dominating this race from where he was – yes, I think he can be excused for getting a bit upset,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think they are big enough and Ferrari understand but you can only criticise your team so many times before there becomes a PR problem for the team.”
Many say that Alain Prost was sacked by Ferrari after the 1991 season that saw him score just five podiums as he ended fifth in the Drivers’ Standings, 62 points behind champion Ayrton Senna.
In his anger at being so far off his near title winning form of 1990 with the Italian side, and he sat out the 1992 season before returning with Williams for one year in 1993.
Hill, who won his championship with Williams, warns that the Scuderia will always win if a driver decides to take on the establishment.
“Ferrari are not the people who are going to give way here,” he added.
“If you’ve got a driver versus Ferrari, Ferrari will always win. So, technically or diplomatically, you have to watch it a bit.”
Perez’s victory now puts him 15 points behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, with Leclerc six points clear of the Mexican in second.
Hill believes that the 32-year-old’s win has now set us up nicely for a thrilling middle part of the season.
“I think it’s bunched up the whole championship actually if you look at it now,” he explained.
“I mean, there was Sergio saying in Spain that he was upset that he was given team orders and he wants to fight for the title.
“He’s only 15 points behind Max Verstappen now so it is tight, and there’s lots of drivers in the mix.
“So in some ways, it’s just made it more of a close title fight for the rest of the season.
“We’ve had changes in form, so it was unusual to see Sergio ahead of Max on the grid so… Sergrio likes Baku, which is the next race, you might find Sergio putting in a bit of a mid-season spurt and attack on the championship.”
When the Red Bulls came out of the pits on Slicks to jump the respective Ferraris, Perez and Verstappen both appeared to catch the very end of the yellow pit exit line on the ascent towards Beau Rivage.
The Scuderia sent an appeal to the stewards to clarify whether the International Sporting Code [ISC] should be upheld over Eduardo Freitas’ race director’s notes ahead of the weekend.
Appendix L, chapter four, section five of the ISC dictates that drivers must not “cross” the line, but Freitas stated that everyone must keep “to the right” of it.
In the end, the appeal was thrown out, and rightly so in Hill’s opinion.
“There’s a yellow line [on the pit exit] and you’re not supposed to go over any part of that yellow line,” he stated.
“They did go a little bit over; they had the left rear slightly on the yellow line right at the very end, and the stewards took a look at that.
“In the case of Sergio, I think they said that he didn’t go enough over it and the other one they let go.
“I think it was clutching at straws a bit, to be honest.
“Ultimately, if you lose a race, appealing against someone just crossing over the tail end of a yellow line is a bit weak.”
Red Bull now lead Ferrari by 36 points in the Constructors’ Championship following their one-three finish in the Principality.