‘Ferrari being beaten by Williams at Silverstone borderline unacceptable’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc makes a pit stop for Ferrari. Britain July 2023

Beaten by a Williams at the British Grand Prix, Bernie Collins says that is “borderline unacceptable” but offered mitigating circumstances for the latest Ferrari failure.

Despite starting the Silverstone race fourth and fifth on the grid with Charles Leclerc ahead of his team-mate Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari team-mates would cross the finish line in a lowly ninth and tenth on a Sunday in which Ferrari’s strategy was once again called into question.

Leclerc was forced into a two-stop strategy when Ferrari pitted him on lap 17, at least 10 laps before anyone else running inside the top-10 pitted, while Sainz was also put onto the hard tyres even though the rest of the field swapped to a medium-soft strategy given the low degradation.

A ‘few contributing factors’ in Ferrari’s latest stumble

The team’s strategy calls meant when all was said and done, Leclerc was stuck behind the Williams of Alex Albon in a late-race Safety Car restart with the Monégasque driver unable to pass in the DRS train while Sainz lost three places in the space of one lap.

Collins believes it was a case of Ferrari failing to react to the lower temperatures and degradation in the grand prix, but says it may have been Leclerc’s electrical problem in Friday’s second practice that ultimately hamstrung them.

“For a Ferrari to be beaten by a Williams at Silverstone, is borderline unacceptable from a team performance side,” the former Aston Martin strategy chief told the Sky Sports podcast.

“They stuck, they were one of the few teams along with McLaren who stuck to the medium-hard strategy, despite evidence showing throughout the race that probably the medium-soft strategy in terms of lower degradation was better.

“And I tried to find reasons from my strategy head as to why, why did they stick so strongly to that strategy. And there was a few contributing factors for me.

“So one is Leclerc didn’t do any running on Friday in the FP2 session so they’re no long run data. They were down to one car getting long run data on new constructions and instantly on Friday for Carlos there was very high degradation on the soft when you compare it to someone like Mercedes.

“I think we’ve spoken many, many times in the past about this high deg that Ferrari seemed to be carrying and that was evident on Friday, and that maybe scared them away from the softer compounds in the race despite evidence from others.

“They were also worried about both Ferraris were running with both Mercedes directly behind and at one point they’re given them the gap of the car behind and trying to say, ‘you need to maintain this gap in order to be free from undercut risk’.

“So they were very concerned about being undercut by both Mercedes which I think is why they forced Leclerc in particular to go early. And that forced the hard tyre because you have a longer stint to do. So there was a few little knock on things there.”


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That none of Leclerc’s rivals took the bait and responded to his stop meant when the Safety Car came out for Kevin Magnussen’s stricken Haas, he was the only driver inside the top-10 having to make a second pit stop.

“Then it’s interesting,” Collins continued, “a few laps into that hard stint Leclerc actually says, ‘I think we’ve gone too early guys’. And I think it was a bit obvious at that point that they had gone too early when nobody is covering this situation.

“And then they’re forced onto the Safety Car to box again, because they’ve already done 14 laps on these hard tyres. So that just compounded the issue for the car.

“But Silverstone historically has a very high risk of Safety Car so you need to be open to the possibility of a Safety Car coming at some point in the race and you need to be ready or in your best position for that.

So I can see where the nerves of the undercut from Mercedes came, particularly with Russell on softs that you think is going to box early on to hard tyre. But they missed what others picked up on that the deg was much lower with the lower track temperature than it had been on Friday.

“Maybe for them if they’d fitted the soft the deg would have been too high, maybe they just cannot control that soft tyre. Not clear. But it’s easy in hindsight, definitely went too early and then weren’t fit to benefit.

“但是他们将disappointed, the entire team will be disappointed.”

Collins, though, doesn’t believe Ferrari’s strategy team should take the blame for this one with the Sky Sports’ pundit saying they’re do “too much checking someone’s opinion or getting authority to do something” to be effective.

“But it doesn’t feel like the car as a package is poor, it just feels like it’s network and the team around it,” she stated.

“It always sort of feels to me like the communication within to get the decisions made quickly, and we’ve seen time and time again on the pit wall questions been asked if drivers on certain decision has been made.

“I don’t think it’s fundamentally the strategy team are poor or don’t think that fundamentally any of the engineering team were poor, I think it’s that other group – they’re not making decisions quickly enough, it feels like there’s too much checking someone’s opinion or getting authority to do something or get an approval or a discussion on why what we’re doing is right or wrong.

“It feels like almost, I don’t know, it feels like the strategy team haven’t enough authority to just make a call and make it stick. That there’s too much discussion as to whether the strategy team are right or not. I don’t know. It’s surmising from the outside the uncertainty and the calls.”

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