Vasseur: Leclerc’s Mexico F1 race was destroyed by a hard tyre stint

According to Ferrari manager Fred Vasseur, his team's Mexico Grand Prix effort went apart after the restart because Charles Leclerc was unable to fire up the hard tyre.
Leclerc

(Motorsports news) Despite missing a front wing endplate after a first-corner collision with Sergio Perez, Leclerc had a strong opening stint on the medium tire. Only a few laps before Kevin Magnussen’s crash brought out the red flag, he pitted for hards. During the pit stop, Ferrari fixed his damaged front wing, but instead of switching to medium tyres for the restarted second half of the race, as some competitors did, the team stayed with the hards.

However, Leclerc was unable to get the tyres into the correct window, and he was immediately overhauled for second place by Lewis Hamilton – who did go for mediums – before slipping back. After qualifying on the first row, Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz finished third and fourth, respectively. Red Bull anticipated that Leclerc would choose mediums during the red flag stop, giving him a chance to jump poleman Max Verstappen, who also chose hards, at the restart.

“I was convinced they were going to take a set of mediums because it’s worth about five metres off the startline,” Christian Horner, the race director, said. “I was surprised that they chose the hard tyre.” We saw the medium on Hamilton, and it turned out fine.” Despite the weakened front wing, the race appeared to be going well for Leclerc, according to Vasseur.

“My feeling from the pit wall is that the first stint was okay,” the Frenchman remarked. “With the damage on the car, we were three or four tenths from Max, and it was almost a good stint. But with the hard, we were never able to restart the tyres, and we were always on the shy side, and it didn’t work at all.” When asked if mediums were an option, he replied, “Honestly, no, because I believe we had to restart for 35 laps or something like that.” And we had not anticipated being able to complete 35 laps.

“I believe Max is also dealing with the medium.” Probably the tyre management, as a result of engine and brake management, aided others. However, it was ambitious. And the medium set that we had was scuffed.” Vasseur disputed that the team’s inability to back up its qualifying form with solid race performance was frustrating. “Frustrating is not the appropriate term. I don’t want to say it’s a horrible race when you’re third and fourth.

“We had a bad stint at the end, and that’s the main issue today.” However, the first portion of the race went quite well. “I think we’ve been taking a step forward for a while now, with four pole positions in the last six races.” It’s a step forward for us, but we need to be more consistent on the race, or at least have no delta between those stints, because that’s where we frequently lose place.”

Also read: Horner says he “can’t blame” Perez for his F1 Mexico Turn 1 maneuver

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