Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto stands by Charles Leclerc orders despite costly Imola GP error

Carlos Sainz commits future to Ferrari until 2024

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has claimed it was ‘never a regret’ asking Charles Leclerc to push in Imola’s wet/dry conditions despite spinning out. Leclerc was lying in third place and chasing down Sergio Perez or second with just a handful of laps remaining when he lost control of the car.

The Monegasque admitted he got too greedy at the entrance to the Varianta Alta and the kerb spat him out and almost into the wall. The Ferrari star damaged his front wing and was forced to make another pitstop, pushing him down to ninth.

He recovered to sixth but threw away vital points and a chance to claim second. Speaking about the incident, Binotto said: “There is never a regret asking a driver to push. It’s part of their job to drive to the limit. It happens.

“These cars on the kerbs are a lot stiffer and if you make a small mistake, you pay for it quite a lot. But no regrets. We made the right choice.”

Leclerc was around three seconds behind Perez with 15 laps remaining but gambled on a set of softs to put pressure on the Red Bulls. After the pit cycle, Leclerc was just behind Perez but had more heat in his tyres and was hunting down the Mexican.

Crucially, the extra stop reduced the 26-second gap Leclerc had to Lando Norris in fourth which meant when he stopped again to repair his damaged car he lost six positions. However, Binotto claimed the team simply ‘saw an opportunity and went for it’ despite dropping points.

He added: “I think maybe at that point of the race Sergio was similar or slightly better. It was because we believed there was an opportunity for us to attack.

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“So we did the pit stop, hoping they would stop as well, so they were both on new tyres, like resetting the race with 15 laps to go. It worked pretty well because Charles was close to Sergio and he tried to attack before he made the mistake.”

“We saw there was an opportunity, a possibility, and we went for it.” Leclerc now leads Verstappen in the championship by just 27 points while Ferrari’s massive advantage in the constructors’ standings has also been cut.

The Prancing Horse are now just 11 points ahead of Red Bull after Carlos Sainz failed to finish for the second race running.

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