Leclerc: Vettel spin helped Mercedes play strategic Monza F1 "game"

Charles Leclerc says being the only Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix lead fight allowed Mercedes to play a strategic "game", following his Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel's spin

Leclerc: Vettel spin helped Mercedes play strategic Monza F1 "game"

Vettel spun out of fourth place early in the race and collided with Lance Stroll as he tried to rejoin, which left race leader Leclerc to fend off Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on his own.

Mercedes split its drivers' strategies so Hamilton pressured Leclerc through the middle phase of the race after an attempted undercut, while Bottas extended his stint by several laps and closed in on Leclerc with fresher tyres at the end.

After holding on to win Ferrari's home race, despite switching to hard tyres with the Mercedes on mediums, Leclerc said: "I think the strategy was good.

"Obviously we were in a tricky situation because we had the two Mercedes behind and I was the only Ferrari.

"They could play the game of going long with one car and earlier with the other.

"It was very tricky, but in the end, I think we made the right choice with the hard [tyre]."

Leclerc acknowledged that Vettel was unfortunate to be running at the back of the lead quartet early on because the four-time world champion should have had a better qualifying lap had he been able to set a time with a tow.

Vettel was among the majority of drivers not to get a second lap in qualifying because of the farcical way the session ended.

Asked how much harder it was without Vettel in a supporting role, Leclerc said: "Obviously it's always an easier situation to have two cars instead of one.

"But [in qualifying] Seb was extremely unlucky, he couldn't do the lap in the second run of Q3.

"I'm pretty sure it will be better in the next races."

Leclerc switched to "Plan B" during the grand prix, which Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said was "simply a longer first stint".

The decision to commit to hard tyres was made as Ferrari assessed the data during the first stint.

"Degradation by the end of the stint [on soft tyres] was not critical, but it was there," said Binotto.

"We knew that by putting the hard [tyres on] we would have had a better pace by the end of the race.

"With the others on the medium, we knew that after the stop the first lap would be difficult.

"That was a key point for the win and the victory.

"I think the choice was brave, but the right one."

Hamilton slipped to third in the end and suspected he would have finished second if he had used hard tyres in his second stint, instead of mediums, but would still not have beaten Leclerc.

"I did ask in the morning if I could go to the hard tyres and they said no," said Hamilton. "They said that because we hadn't run it, they didn't know it was quick enough.

"The [soft] tyre we were on was quick, but I did say it was potentially going to go off the cliff."

shares
comments
Vettel "couldn't see anything" past cockpit sides in Monza incident

Previous article

Vettel "couldn't see anything" past cockpit sides in Monza incident

Next article

Haas and Rich Energy terminate 2019 F1 title sponsorship deal

Haas and Rich Energy terminate 2019 F1 title sponsorship deal
Load comments
Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces Plus

Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces

At the Italian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo turned around a troubled F1 season and, in F2, Oscar Piastri demonstrated once again that he is a potential star of the future. BEN EDWARDS weighs up the prospects of F1 having two Australian stars

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2021
The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021