Late call reason for bungled Ferrari stop

Carlos Sainz pits during the Dutch Grand Prix

A late call from the Ferrari pit wall to mechanics in the garage left the team unprepared when Carlos Sainz arrived in the box during the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.

Sainz pitted on Lap 14 for his first stop, losing in the region of nine seconds as he waited for the left-rear tyre to be fitted.

The Spaniard ran third before his stop but emerged 11th afterwards, which became a net sixth once the pit stop cycle was complete.

A pass on Sergio Perez on Lap 61 saw Sainz recover to fifth at the flag only for a time penalty to demote him to eighth.

It was another missed opportunity, caused by an operational failure within the Scuderia.

“We knew that Lewis [Hamilton] was preparing himself for the pit stop, [and] could have undercut ourselves; we saw the pit crew of Mercedes being out in the pit lane,” explained Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto.

“At that time we knew he would have stopped so we tried to react simply to stay ahead of him, which was the best way to keep track position because we knew as well Lewis was very fast in the first stint of the race.

“So when we saw the pit crew of Mercedes, we called our driver [Sainz] to pit in, but that was when he was in the last corner and too late for mechanics to be ready.

“So it has been too late, as a call.

“In our race preparation we normally know by when is the last time and the last call for mechanics, but it was past the track position.

“So it was a too late call as well, based on our judgement prior to the race.”

The ordeal made for a frustrated Sainz ruing another Ferrari error.

“It was clearly maybe a bit too late, but we need to keep analysing these cases, keep improving as a team, because we keep costing ourselves some points and we need to see why,” he said.

“We need to keep improving these sorts of things, especially for next year because it definitely looks like Max [Verstappen] and Red Bull are pulling away now.

“We want to have a shot at next year, we need to keep improving these things and make the mistakes this year to get them better.”

Adding insult to injury for Sainz was a five-second penalty for an unsafe release in the race’s latter stages.

During the Safety Car for Valtteri Bottas’ stricken Alfa Romeo Sauber, the field was taken through the pit lane.

Zandvoort has one of the tightest lanes on the calendar, with the speed limit just 60km/h versus 80km/h at most venues.

With some teams servicing their cars, there was precious little room to manoeuvre.

That was certainly the case for Sainz, who was released from his pit box and then had to navigate around McLaren mechanics to join the fast lane.

As he did so, he delayed Fernando Alonso, with officials deciding the fact the Spaniard had to slow from 60km/h was a greater risk than Sainz avoiding personnel in pit lane.

“I feel that the decision of FIA, of the stewards, have been very, very harsh,” opined Binotto.

“The reason is, when he [Sainz] came in, McLaren was passing through and we handled Carlos in the pit position because we knew it would have been unsafe to release at the time.

“We wanted, we waited to have the right space and believe that the space was there with the Alpine coming. So that’s why we released him.

“What happened after is that he has to slow down, almost to stop because the pit crew of McLaren was going around the car, and in order to be safe with the mechanics you almost stop – having as well an anti-stall coming in, losing time.

“Then it was somehow late, but the release itself was not unsafe; the release was safe; the way that Carlos acted was safe.

“That’s why it seems that the overall decision was harsh.”

While Sainz was classified eighth in the final results, team-mate Charles Leclerc finished third.

He now sits 109 points adrift of Verstappen at the top of the drivers’ standings, while Red Bull holds a 135-point advantage at the top of the constructors’ championship.

Seven rounds remain in 2022, the Italian Grand Prix next, beginning on Friday.

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