Ferrari lost the race in Monaco due to wrong strategic decisions. Team boss Mattia Binotto did not skimp on self-criticism after the race. In the race analysis, we examine again what went wrong in the decisive moments.
Why was the start postponed?
The Monaco Grand Prix started 16 minutes late. A small shower shortly before the official start had caused a lot of chaos. All teams initially had intermediates mounted on the slightly damp slope. But then the race control suddenly surprised everyone with the announcement that they wanted to start the race behind the safety car. In this case, the obligation to put on the right rain tires automatically applies.
But many teams didn't have the roughly profiled Pirelli rubbers at the starting line. "It was complete chaos in the pit lane. The mechanics ran back and forth with different sets of tires and almost knocked each other over," recalls a Mercedes engineer. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, on the other hand, could not understand the decision: "We had our rain tires on the cars in time. That shows that our team is well organized. I don't know why the race management postponed the start."
There was also criticism because the race organizers waited so long to restart after the first interruption, even though it had stopped raining a long time ago. The FIA officially announced that there was a problem with the power supply to the starter light. This problem also led to the decision to start the race flying and not standing after the Schumacher crash because it was not clear whether the traffic lights were working. In addition, the referees feared that the semi-damp track on the home stretch could put some drivers at a disadvantage.
How did Ferrari mess up the strategy?
As the track dried out more and more after the restart, the strategists had their moment. Pierre Gasly was the first to show that the intermediates found significantly more grip than the rain tires. But there were few imitators. The problem was that even with the better pace you lost a lot of time overtaking in traffic. Even in the leading quartet, all drivers seemed to be waiting until the track was dry enough to switch directly to slicks. But then, on lap 16, Red Bull Sergio Perez suddenly let on a fresh set of intermediates.
The Mexican started like the fire brigade. Ferrari tried to counter two laps later. But when Leclerc went back out on the track, he suddenly had the Red Bull in front of his nose. "If you lead the race here in Monaco and only finish fourth in the end, then you must have done something wrong. It wasn't just bad luck.Mistakes were made when assessing the situation and making decisions," said Binotto, who was relentlessly self-critical.
In the case of the first round of pit stops, the good pace of the intermediates and the distances between the cars on the track were misjudged, said the team boss "We should have gotten Charles either a lap earlier or not at all." In Ferrari's defense, it's always difficult to make the first move from the lead, and Perez was lucky he wasn't landed on by Lando Norris was stopped. The McLaren turned into the pits when the Red Bull appeared behind him. This allowed Perez to make a full attack.
At the second stop on slicks, Ferrari didn't want to be forced onto the defensive again. According to Binotto, they tried "To regain the lost position with the undercut. Both drivers were dispatched on lap 21. But Ferrari was suddenly too early here. Because the hard compound on the wet track did not get up to temperature, Red Bull managed the overcut a lap later with both cars . Perez sat in front of Sainz, Verstappen in front of Leclerc.
Ferrari actually wanted to wait one lap longer with Leclerc. But the radio message only reached the pilot after he had already turned into the pit lane. The local hero had to queue up 3.5 seconds behind the sister car. In the case of Sainz, Ferrari lamented that Nicholas Latifi's Williams got in the way on the outlap. "I ran into a wet spot at the pit exit. That's why he slipped through me. He should have known that I was one lap ahead of him and that it would be better not to overtake me in the first place," complained Sainz. Binotto added: "Latifi was shown blue flags for two sectors, but he didn't move to the side. Otherwise Carlos would have landed in front of Perez."
Why did Ferrari protest?
The Monaco Grand Prix had an aftermath at the green table. Ferrari lodged a protest against both Red Bull drivers. The accusation: Perez and Verstappen are said to have slipped too far outside over the yellow line after their second stop from intermediates on slicks on lap 22 at the pit exit. "The protest was not directed at Red Bull itself. We just asked for an explanation," Binotto claimed.
The dispute finally flared up over the question of whether touching the line is punishable or whether a violation of the rules only occurs when crossing the line: "The race director's instructions make it very clear that you have to stay to the right of the yellow line. This has been defined since the Istanbul race in 2020 so that there are no misunderstandings about the choice of words," Binotto said.
The hearing recognized that the line was touched in both cases. In the case of Verstappen, part of the tire even protruded on the left. Nevertheless, the protest was dismissed without penalty.In their justification, the FIA stewards did not refer to the official specifications of the race control, which are adjusted at every Grand Prix, but to the International Sporting Code. There it is still written that the car is not allowed to "cross" the yellow line.
The referees admitted that the requirements of the race directors always have to be in accordance with the sports laws, but that was not the case here. Because it is the overarching body of law, the International Sporting Code was considered to be relevant for the judgment. However, the world association has to ask itself why the possible offense was noted in the race, but the matter was not pursued further. In the end, it looks as if they really wanted to prevent the race result from being changed afterwards, which would probably have led to even more criticism.
Which was the right tire for the restart?
Red Bull and Ferrari chose different tire types for the restart after the severe Schumacher crash on lap 31. Ferrari relied on hard rubber, Red Bull let the mediums pull up. "We were afraid that the mediums would end up with graining, which was the case with Red Bull," revealed Binotto. "In addition, the disadvantage with the warm-up at the beginning wasn't that big because the start was flying and not standing. I think our decision was right. But unfortunately we couldn't get past on the track."
On lap 51, Lando Norris was the only driver to make another stop. The Brit quickly made up for the time lost due to the tire change. One more lap and he would probably have passed George Russell for fifth place. It would have been interesting if Russell had countered directly and also pitted. Then Leclerc could have stopped from fourth place without the risk of losing place. With fresher tires, the Monegasque could have attacked the podium again at the end.
Why did Ocon receive a penalty?
Esteban Ocon could see the anger after the race. The Frenchman actually crossed the finish line in ninth place, but due to a five-second penalty he subsequently slipped out of the points in twelfth place. The FIA stewards saw the Alpine driver as the main culprit in a collision with Lewis Hamilton on lap 17. A piece of the front wing of the Mercedes broke off when it came into contact with the rear tire of the Alpine.
"We were doing well, but then the penalty completely ruined the race for us," complained Ocon. "I am very frustrated. Nobody shares the opinion of the FIA stewards. They told me that the same scene last year would have been a normal racing accident. But apparently we drivers all agreed that you have to make room now as soon as a front wing is next to the tire.Unfortunately I can't remember that. For me it was hard but good racing. In comparable situations I would act like that again."