Why Leclerc made the “very wrong” pit stop Sainz avoided RaceFans

Charles Leclerc said Ferrari made multiple mistakes with its strategy in the rain-affected Monaco Grand Prix, starting with his first pit stop.

Having led the early stages of the race, Leclerc slipped to fourth place at the finish.

His day began to go awry as the track started to dry and Ferrari brought him in to fit intermediate tires. The team was reacting to Sergio Perez, who had pitted two laps earlier to switch from full wets to intermediates and was immediately quicker.

Leclerc’s race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros had already suggested the possibility of waiting for the track to dry more fully and going straight from full wets to slicks. However after Leclerc was told Perez had switched to intermediates he drove a full lap then told his team: “Inter would be much quicker, for sure.”

Later on that lap, as Leclerc exited the chicane, Marcos Padros told him to pit. Leclerc did not question the decision, and Ferrari put him on intermediates.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2022
Leclerc led the early stages on wet weather tires

Meanwhile, his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was having the same conversation with his race engineer. However, Sainz was doubtful that switching to intermediates was the correct decision, and less easily persuaded of the need to react to Perez’s pit stop.

Told Perez had pitted for intermediates, Sainz replied: “I’m not sure it’s the right call. It’s nearly ready for dry.”

“We would like to cover Checo on our side,” his race engineer Ricardo Adami told him. “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Sainz asserted. “In five, six laps, it might be dry.”

Advertisement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Nonetheless, Ferrari did call Sainz into the pits, only to cancel the instruction. Leclerc came in shortly afterwards, but lost his position to Perez.

Ferrari reacted to Perez’s pit stop

Leclerc’s troubles worsened from that point onwards. He lost more time in traffic and again having to queue in the pits behind his team mate when they eventually pitted for slicks. However, he stressed the original decision to change to intermediates had been “very wrong”.

Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari was prepared to skip the intermediates and switch straight from wets to slicks if necessary, as Sainz eventually did. Lewis Hamilton had used that strategy to win the same race in 2016, Binotto pointed out.

“It was a scenario we were discussing between us before the race,” he said. “It already happened in the past – I think it was Hamilton here in Monaco – from extreme [wet] switching directly to dry.

“So it’s something which we were aware of and was part of the discussion we had and the judgment which would have been necessary during the race.”

He said the team rely on the drivers’ feedback to decide which tire type to fit. “The drivers call in that respect – because they’ve got the feeling of the tires and the track, how much it is wet and the grip they’ve got – was essential.”

Sainz said it was a “huge challenge” to discuss the tire strategy while navigating the narrow Monaco circuit in treacherous conditions. “But the important thing is that by the time that everyone started pitting for inters, and they were telling me that everyone on inters was very quick, for me we were not very far off from slicks.

Advertisement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So it was worth – not taking a gamble, because it was not a gamble, it’s Monaco and it’s still difficult to pass – but to make sure that we waited until the slick to pit and we save a pit stop. I was trying to transmit to the team that was my feeling, that this was my intention or at least what I thought was the right call.”

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Monaco, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Monaco Grand Prix in pictures

Sainz said he worked out Perez was not catching him quickly enough to threaten his position. “I could more or less the rate that Perez was catching and I figured out that by the time he was going to catch me, it was going to calculate time to put the slicks.”

However Sainz later lost time behind Nicholas Latifi, and fell behind Perez when he pitted.

Leclerc, however, said he didn’t realise Ferrari were going to put him on intermediate tires when he made his first pit stop.

“I was not aware that we were pitting for intermediates,” he said. “We didn’t have the time to speak about it.

“Obviously I got the call and I listened to it. So we didn’t have the time to discuss because it was at a particular moment and I think the aim was to react to Perez.

“But we’ll analyze all of this. Obviously it’s disappointing and it hurts especially at home, but it’s the way it is.”

Advertisement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Charles Leclerc’s radio messages

Before Perez pitted, Leclerc and his race engineer were already considering a switch directly to slicks:

Marcos Padros Let me know track condition.
Leclerc It’s drying up quickly
Marcos Padros Okay. Copy that. And other drivers thinking about going straight to slicks. Let me know your opinion on that.
Leclerc Yeah could be a thing but not now.
Marcos Padros Understood. Sainz lap time 33.0.
Marcos Padros And if possible, try to use wet patches for tire temps.
Marcos Padros Gap to Sainz behind, Sainz lap time 32.6.

However when Leclerc was told Perez had pitted, he said putting intermediates on could be advantageous. There was no further discussion of slicks from either side before he pitted:

Marcos Padros So Perez just pitted now, we believe for inters. Confirm inters on Perez.
Leclerc Inter would be much quicker, for sure.
Marcos Padros Copy, understood.
Marcos Padros Gap to Sainz behind 6.3. I will let you know the lap times from Perez.
Marcos Padros And box this lap, box, pit confirm.
Leclerc Box this lap.
Marcos Padros Multi-function tire position seven, tire position seven when you can.
Marcos Padros And box now, box. Verstappen also pitted.
Marcos Padros Will be tight with Perez.
Marcos Padros Gap to Perez in front, 4.4.

Advertisement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Carlos Sainz Jnr’s radio messages

Sainz responded to the news of Perez’s pit stop differently, casting doubt on whether the team should fit intermediates:

Adami For info Safety Car window is open for inters, just in case.
Sainz Copy.
Adami Charles lap time 32.0. For info Gasly with inters 31.2 at the back. We are monitoring. Get your plan.
Adami Hamilton has pitted for inters, for reference, and Perez is three seconds behind.
Adami And push, in-lap. Perez is in for inters. Push, in-lap.
Sainz I’m not sure it’s the right call. It’s nearly ready for dry, yeah?
Adami Okay, copy, we’ll come back to you.
Adami We would like to cover Checo on our side.
Sainz I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
Sainz In five, six laps, might be dry.

Despite Sainz repeatedly casting doubt on whether they should fit intermediates, Ferrari initially called him in for a pit stop, then changed their minds. Leclerc came in instead:

Adami And box confirm box. We need to respond to Checo.
Adami And stay out, stay out.
Sainz Copy, stay out.

Sainz made it clear he wanted to stay out until the track was ready for slicks, which he did:

Adami Charles lap time 31.4.
Adami Verstappen four seconds behind.
Adami Charles is coming in for inters. Verstappen 2.8 behind, 2.8.
Sainz Happy to stay out.
Adami Okay. Understood.
Sainz Stay out until dry.
Adami Copy.
Adami Checo is in front of Charles. Head down.
Sainz Who?
Sainz Checo is in front of Charles with inters. 25.2 lap time.
Sainz Perez is nine seconds behind, nine seconds.
Adami Let me know what you think for slicks.
Sainz It’s going to be a few laps but not a lot.
Sainz Okay understood. And Mick is on slicks already, for reference, we are monitoring.

Advertisement | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFns is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become an RaceFans Supporter today and browse the ad-free site. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2022 Monaco Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Monaco Grand Prix articles

Leave a Comment