Former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger has asked fans and pundits not to be too hard on Ferrari’s strategists after a tricky afternoon in Monaco last weekend.
Charles Leclerc was leading the race in changing conditions having started on pole ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, and the Red Bull pair of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen both pitted before the Maranello-based side for Inters.
Ferrari seemed set on taking their drivers all the way to the Slick transition on full Wets, but changed their mind with Leclerc by bringing him into the pits, allowing Perez a two-lap undercut on faster rubber.
Consequently, the Monegasque lost the lead, but Sainz decided to go long, and he pitted for Hards later on.
The Scuderia called Leclerc in at the same time, but misjudges the distance between their drivers, meaning Leclerc had to back off in the pit lane to allow the crew to finish work on his team-mate’s car.
The time lost as a result then cost him a further position to Verstappen, and Perez cleared Sainz when the Spaniard got caught up behind the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
Leclerc said after the race that his team are currently making “too many mistakes,” but Berger sees the Brightside, affirming that, given where Ferrari have been for the last two years, it is a massive positive that they are now fighting for wins in the first place.
“Ferrari is being criticised too much for the tactical mistakes last Sunday,” he said.
“We should really congratulate Mattia Binotto for the strong car he has managed to put on the track, because we hadn’t expected that just a few months ago.”
As for Sainz, the Austrian is seeing improvements in the 27-year-old’s game following his second-placed finish, and he states that a haul of 30 points is not a terrible day.
“After seven rounds, Sainz is still dreaming of the world championship and rightly so – he is not far from the top, don’t discount him,” added Berger.
“Overall, Ferrari have recovered, and in Monaco had the better car. Second and fourth is no disaster.”
Cesare Fiorio, who acted as Ferrari’s sporting director from 1989 to 1991, notes that, while Ferrari had the quicker car in Monaco, Red Bull seem to have a bit more dexterity strategically.
“I think Red Bull is generally a bit more skilled in reacting to surprises during the races,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We cannot forget that Verstappen won the title in Abu Dhabi because of the pitwall. Red Bull has an edge over Ferrari in that respect.”
Eddie Irvine, who won four races with the Scuderia in 1999, says that in changing conditions like the ones in Monte Carlo, it is much more difficult to judge the terrain when you are leading, and easier to react when you are behind.
“A pitstop phase like that is easier to manage when you’re the hunter, especially in the circumstances that happened in the last race,” explained the Briton.
“We also cannot forget that if Carlos Sainz hadn’t come across a backmarker, he would have won the race. I think it was mostly bad luck.
“Of course, you always have to look closely at what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. With the car they have, it’s always a shame not to win.”
Red Bull’s 40-point score in Monaco leaves them 36 points clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship having completely swung the tide in the last four races.