F1 fans on Reddit have poked fun at Ferrari’s head of strategy, Iñaki Rueda, after the Spaniard defended his decision to pit Charles Leclerc late on in Belgium.
Leclerc had gone into the weekend at Spa knowing that he would take a grid penalty after qualifying due to adding too many engine parts to his pool.
The Monegasque was joined by Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Zhou Guanyu and Mick Schumacher in starting from the back and, after Verstappen qualified first with Leclerc fourth, they lined up 14th and 15threspectively.
During qualifying though, Leclerc was sent out on fresh Softs to give team-mate Carlos Sainz a slipstream, when the team were supposed to be saving that set for the race – their first blunder of the weekend.
The Red Bull’s pace was imperious throughout the weekend – the reigning champion had qualified over half a second clear of Carlos Sainz on the Saturday – and Verstappen was in the lead within the first half of the grand prix.
Meanwhile, Leclerc was forced to pit early when a rogue visor tear-off – thought to be from Verstappen’s car – got caught in his brake duct, so he had to pit.
Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, it appeared that, following weeks of criticism and ridicule, no one at the Scuderia wanted to take control of the strategy and risk making a mistake.
They therefore asked Leclerc what tyres he wanted to be on and when he wanted to pit, despite the 24-year-old’s limited knowledge of what was going on elsewhere.
What he did know for sure was that he did not want to risk pitting late on to try and get the fastest lap while running in fifth and, after hearing that, Ferrari called him in anyway.
Sadly or Leclerc, one of his sensors had been damaged by the tear-off, so his pit limiter was faulty, and the Number 16 F1-75 sped into the pit lane.
Further, the five-time race winner was passed by Fernando Alonso when he re-joined, and the time taken to regain the position denied him the chance to set the fastest lap.
The subsequent penalty for speeding put him down to sixth, culminating a tough weekend for the Maranello-based side as Sainz ended third behind Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Red Bull’s fourth one-two of the season gave them a commanding lead in the championship heading into the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend, made even bigger by Ferrari’s error at the end.
Nonetheless, Rueda affirmed that he had no regrets as to the decision to pit his driver.
“If we don’t take these opportunities, we’re no longer racers,” he said, quoted by Motorlat.
This, naturally, led to some ridicule on social media.
“Giving some serious ‘my risk was calculated but man am I bad at math’ vibes,” said one user.
“If you no longer go for a blunder that exists, you’re no longer part of Ferrari Strategia team,” joked another.
Some had some sympathy though, suggesting that the mistake in Stavelot was not as detrimental as errors that had snatched wins from Leclerc’s grasp in Monaco and Silverstone.
“This one was harmless imho. Hilarious and clownery but still not as bad as Monaco, Silverstone or Hungary,” stated a fan.
“They clearly lost the championships so they are free to roll the dice as much as possible.”
Leclerc narrowly lost out on pole to Verstappen in the Netherlands this weekend, and the Dutchman went on to win the race, while the Ferrari driver crossed the finish line in P2.