Ferrari strategy director Inaki Rueda has explained why the team didn’t have all four wheels ready for Carlos Sainz Jnr when he made his first pit stop during the Dutch Grand Prix.
Sainz started third but finished the race in eighth place after a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release from his pit box during his final stop. However his first visit to the pits on lap 14 proved even more costly, as he lost over 10 seconds while waiting for his left-rear wheel to arrive.
Rueda revealed what went wrong in a video published by Ferrari. “The first round of pit stops came quite early,” he explained. “People started stopping at around lap 10, 12, 13, 14. This gave us a window of opportunity to pit into.
“With Carlos we were under threat, we had two Mercedes and one Red Bull that could potentially undercut Carlos. An undercut at that point of the race would have meant that Carlos gave the position to them. Carlos’s pit stop came later than usual because we reacted to Perez’s call.
“The pit stop call usually has two factors: one is the call from us to the driver and the other one is our call to our crew. The call to the driver in this case came at the right time, Carlos had no problem coming into the box, he knew he was coming in, he had enough time to make the pit lane.
“The call to the pit crew usually comes around 23 or 24 seconds, but in this case because we were reacting to Perez it came later. We only gave our pit crew 17 seconds to react.”
Rather than signal to the crew to prepare for the pit stop as Sainz exited the turn 12 hairpin, the call instead came as he entered the final two corners of the lap.
“Our pit crew need this time to come out into the location and be ready when the driver comes. We have our gunmen, the tyre removers come out and the tyre fitters come crucially through the pit stop area,” Rueda explained.
The entire crew wasn’t able to make it to the left-hand side of Sainz’s car in time to being the stop.
“case Carlos came in a bit earlier than usual. The front-left tyre fitter managed to squeeze in between the front wing and the front jack, but the rear-left tyre fitter did not manage to get by.
“To make matters worse, at Zandvoort we have a very narrow pit lane and this meant that the rear-left tyre fitter had to go around the whole pit crew to make it eventually to his corner. That’s why you saw that all the three other corners had finished before we had a rear-left tyre to be fitted on the car.”
The stop dropped Sainz from third to 11th, while Perez’s clean stop only moved him down to eighth and he was able to rise back up to third before his second stop. Sainz progressed back up to fifth during the second stint of the race, which he completed on the medium compound tyre.
“We thought it was a strong tyre, and we were gearing up to do a two-stop from then on,” Rueda said. “We realised that the Mercedes on the medium from the start had considerably more pace than we expected. This meant that now they were in contention for a one-stop and a very competitive one-stop at that.
“Our second stops were done with the Mercedes doing a one-stop in mind, so we wanted to try and come back at Hamilton and Russell with as much pace delta as possible to overtake, because them doing one stop less meant we would have to overtake them on track.”
Both Mercedes drivers ended up pitting twice at the end of a late safety car period, and they were able to maintain track position over Sainz who had risen to fifth, before his unsafe release penalty.
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