Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admits he was “very surprised” that Ferrari avoided fitting the Medium tyre to Charles Leclerc’s car for the Mexico City Grand Prix restart.

Max Verstappen had immediately got ahead of polesitter Leclerc at the start, stretching out a 4.6s lead by the time he pitted for the Hard compound at the end of Lap 19.

Ferrari, however, extended Leclerc’s first stint until Lap 32, one lap before its attempt to prolong a one-stop strategy was negated by Kevin Magnussen’s high-speed shunt.

Horner has echoed Verstappen’s admission that Red Bull had been angling for a two-stop prior to the race being suspended on Lap 35 to repair the damaged barrier at Turn 9.

Asked if a two-stop strategy had been Red Bull’s pre-race arrangement, Horner said: “Yeah. So we went aggressive today. The compounds had stepped down a compound.

“A one-stop felt, you’re hanging on a bit, so we felt we’d attack the race, and Max was very keen to do an attacking strategy even if he conceded track position to be on the right tire. And that was the plan from Friday.”

Like Red Bull with Verstappen, Ferrari opted to leave Leclerc on the Hard for the restart amid concerns over tyre degradation.

However, the Monegasque driver struggled on the white-walled compound, eventually succumbing to Lewis Hamilton on Mediums on Lap 40 and trailing home a distant third.

After Leclerc had managed to run almost half the race on the Medium, Horner says he was certain Ferrari would revert back to the middle-range tyre to attack Verstappen.

“That red flag was at the worst possible time in the middle of a two-stop. It neutralizes the race, and of course we’ve only got a Hard set of tires,” Horner explains.

“We thought Leclerc after that long first stint, I was convinced they’d take a set of Mediums because it’s worth about five meters off the start line. I was very surprised they went with the Hard tyre. You saw the Medium on Hamilton, and he was OK in the end.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.

Although Ferrari reassured Leclerc that Hamilton’s Medium tyre would drop away, the Briton extended the gap in the closing laps and set the fastest lap on his final tour.

Having stormed to pole position on Saturday, Leclerc concedes that Ferrari’s troubles on the harder compound exposed the continued inconsistency of its SF-23 car in race trim.

“I think it still confirms the weaknesses of our car, where it’s a very peaky car,” he addressed. “And whenever we get out of the optimal window of the car, we are losing too much time. And that’s exactly what happened on the Hard.

“At first, I thought I could do quite a good job once we stopped. But then there was a red flag, the tyres cooled down, we went back out and the feeling was just not the same and I couldn’t find the feeling again with the tyres.

“So it’s a bit of a shame because before that it was really good, especially on the Medium. But we’ll look into it, again, on the Hard to try and understand what went wrong there, in order to improve that in the future.

“But I think short term, there’s no big fixes. I think every time we are, as I said, a bit out of the optimal window, we lose too much time.”

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *