Charles Leclerc says he “made it clear” he did not want to make an early pit stop to switch to the hard tire as he saw another strategic error cost him in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Starting third, Leclerc had managed to jump team-mate Carlos Sainz by running longer in the first stint and then overtook George Russell on track to lead. However, in response to Max Verstappen making a second pit stop for another set of medium tires, Ferrari called Leclerc in and switched to hards in what proved to be a major error, dropping him to sixth place after a third stop was required.
“I made it clear that [I wanted to keep the medium] as long as possible, but we pitted very early for the hard, which we need to understand why,” Leclerc said.
“I think the second stint should have been longer. The first stint was the right moment to stop, and we did the right choice there. But on the second stint, I don’t know exactly why we did it shorter.
“I’m pretty sure that this was [Verstappen’s] call [to pit] — you know, to put us under the pressure — but I don’t think we should have…reacted to that because then it was a snowball effect to us and we lost much more than what we should do.
“Obviously, a race like this is frustrating and we need to get better as a whole. You know, it always feels like there’s always something going on, whatever it is — reliability, mistakes, whatever — but we need to be better putting a weekend together.
“We will try and use the few days that we have to reset, but obviously also to analyze and to understand where we need to be better, and what we can do to get better, because this is extremely important.”
Leclerc doesn’t think Ferrari can blame the cooler conditions that were seen on Sunday because they knew how the other tire compounds were performing.
“I don’t think so because I think the pace was very good today, on the medium. On a tire that was strong it was really good, but then on the hard, obviously we lost all the pace, so we did one stop more than everybody, losing 20s plus the five or six laps on the hard where we were losing a second per lap. This is a lot of race time.
“I think starting on a medium was the right choice. I think stopping for the hard was the turning point of the race.”