Ferrari got off to a flying start in the Portuguese Grand Prix, but ultimately could only manage a best result of P6 for Charles LeClerc. Carlos Sainz, the other Ferrari driver, finished the race at P11 due to tyre issues, which meant he didn’t bag any points.
Sainz initially was in contention for a podium, but the team instructed him to swap positions with LeClerc when they saw his pace getting affected by the faulty tyres. After a team order, Sainz allowed his teammate to overtake him. Subsequently, LeClerc was able to bring home eight crucial points for Ferrari.
Team order is a divisive strategy employed in F1, often involving higher-ups. As such, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto commented on the incident, and used the opportunity to take a cheeky jab at their former driver Sebastian Vettel.
While speaking about Carlos Sainz’s willingness to execute the team order, he said, “So it seems it really talks to the way he understands the message. I think when you’ve got drivers that understand what’s the priorities and that support the team, it’s always a pleasure.”
Not a fan of the strategy
Swapping drivers has always been a talking point in F1, mainly because how underhanded it is. Sometimes, drivers themselves aren’t huge fans of it.
In this case, however, Sainz was willing to stick to the team’s strategy, which called for LeClerc to be the lead driver after his speed had been greatly affected.
However, Binotto clarified his stance on the strategy, saying, “Swapping positions is something that we would like to avoid, things that normally aren’t great, but sometimes maybe necessary.”
“Today, we felt it was because of different pace, and we could see that Carlos was suffering with the graining of the medium. We asked him, he did it immediately,” he further explained and praised Sainz for his cooperation.
F1 is a sport of fine margins, and there is only a thin line between team dynamics and individual glory. It is thus important for teams to establish effective communication and ensure everyone involved is on the same page.
In the last few years, Ferrari hasn’t been the first team that springs to mind when the talk turns to cohesive constructors. Hopefully, such integrated team moves can help them achieve results and establish themselves as solid contenders.