Leclerc doesn’t regret chasing win with tire gamble

Charles Leclerc says he doesn’t regret trying to make it to the end of the Turkish Grand Prix without a pit stop despite his attempts to win ultimately resulting in his missing out on a podium.

Ferrari looked quick all weekend and Leclerc spent the first half of the race keeping pressure on Max Verstappen for second place. When Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen stopped for fresh intermediate tires, Leclerc took the lead and was attempting to run to the end before pitting and finishing fourth.

“Well, personally I had all the info I needed at that time,” Leclerc said. “And once Valtteri pitted I was asking quite a lot on the radio, ‘OK, what are the lap times on the new inters?’ and for the first five or six laps we were actually more or less in line with the pace.

“So for me it was clear that I knew — it was not just rolling the dice. I think we were all confident with that choice. But it was a bit of a strange race — the new inters, for six, seven laps they had like a graining phase and then once you went through the graining phase then you were finding a lot of pace again. And that’s basically exactly what happened. So no regrets on my side.”

Leclerc doesn’t think he would have been able to finish on the podium without the pit stop, despite having been a comfortable third ahead of Sergio Perez before the front-runners chose to pit.

“It would have been very, very difficult without stopping, to be honest. The rear tires were very difficult to handle in the last four laps before my pit stop and that’s why we did the pit stop actually. I struggled a lot with rear locking and that pushed me to do a few mistakes; so I don’t know but I don’t think better than where we finished with the pit stop.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto said the fact Carlos Sainz stopped much earlier than Leclerc allowed Ferrari to check the integrity of his tires and learn if he could safely make the end of the race, but it didn’t take pace into account.

“Obviously we had the pit stop done on Carlos, and we knew how much rubber was left on Carlos’ tires at the moment, and knowing that data we believed that we could have finished the race, at least in terms of being safe in that respect,” Binotto said.

“So we knew that in terms of safety, all the conditions were there, then it was a matter of performance. And then as Charles said at the time when we stayed out, the performance was OK but then the track changed, became dryer, etc., and we had to come in.”