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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was left red-faced before the United States Grand Prix after having his strategy ridiculed by Alpine rival Pierre Gasly. The former ended up coming home in sixth despite starting from pole position before he was eventually disqualified following a post-race plank check, which revealed that Ferrari had been running his car too low to the ground.
Leclerc was immediately overtaken by Lando Norris at the start before slipping to fourth after losing ground to Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. He ended up falling another couple of positions after being placed on a radical one-stop strategy by Ferrari, with team-mate Carlos Sainz faring much better with two pit stops.
It seems as though Gasly was fully aware that a one-stop strategy would not work out, with the Frenchman telling F1TV after the race: “No, I wasn’t [considering it]. The first time it came up was when Charles came to see me on the grid and said: ‘Are you also going for a one-stop?’.
“I was like: ‘There was no f****** way that I was going for a one-stop’. Then we looked at each other because at that time I was a little confused with what he was saying.”
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A two-stop strategy might just have prevented Leclerc from tumbling down the order to the extent that he did, although it did not matter in the end as he was retrospectively disqualified and stripped of his hard-earned points. Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur later admitted that it was a mistake to only pit Leclerc once after getting their calculations wrong before the race.
“It was not the good choice, it’s obvious,” said Vasseur. “Probably the issue is that we didn’t have a clear picture about this before the race, we were a bit hesitating, and he was a bit hesitating into the first stint, pushing or not pushing, and we made a mistake.
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“It was not very clear before the race, as you can imagine. We had the two options. In terms of numbers, it was very, very close. I think where we made the mistake is that we anticipated that the field will be 50-50, and it was not at all.
“What was even more difficult with Charles was that everybody committed for the two stops. It means that you have much more traffic around you because it’s not that everybody’s doing the same race as you, and you have a clean race, as you are not in the sequence, the guys are overtaking you one or two times.”
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