Frédéric Vasseur says Ferrari will address the miscommunication that took place in Jeddah between Charles Leclerc and his race engineer, the Scuderia boss admitting that “it wasn’t a good call”.
A strong first stint had allowed Leclerc to progress from P12 on the grid to P5, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, by the time the Monegasque undertook his single pitstop on lap 16.
However, Hamilton swapped tyres two laps later, at the start of the safety car regime, the Mercedes driver crucially emerging ahead of Leclerc who was 7th in the pecking order at that point.
Ahead of the restart, Leclerc was given a status by Ferrari race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros who told his driver: “Try to push from Safety Car line one for Hamilton, he just pitted”.
An annoyed Leclerc was surprised by the call, quipping back: “Xavi, you need to tell me that before! Come on!”
“I thought we were clear and we weren’t fighting anybody,” Leclerc later explained. “So I was trying to take a bit of a gap to actually push on the tyre [ahead of the restart].
“But then Xavi told me, I think just before the first corner, that we were fighting Hamilton and so it was too late for being on the limit of the delta.”
F1i’s Driver Ratings for the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP
Leclerc concluded his evening seventh, one position behind teammate Carlos Sainz, with both drivers having struggled for pace on the hard compound rubber.
After the race, Vasseur admitted that it had not been a “good call” by Leclerc’s strategist, although the Frenchman minimized the importance of the misstep.
“Yes, it was not a good call,” Vasseur told the media. “It is like it is.
“It’s not the main issue and I think it would be a mistake from our side to focus on [it].
“I don’t want to say it’s details. It was a miscommunication, and we will have to speak, to fix it. It’s not the main issue at all over the weekend.”
In the grand scheme of things, last Sunday’s miscommunication error was indeed but a minor issue, with Ferrari’s underperformance and deficit to Red Bull a much bigger concern for the House of Maranello.
But Vasseur says his team is keeping its head down and its focus on its own affairs.
“I think it’s not the right attitude to think about the gap, to think will we be able to close the gap and so on,” he said.
“We have to be focused on ourselves, that we know when we are weak, and we have to improve on this one.
“We will see what is the outcome, when we’ll do a decent step. But I think if you start to think about what could be the future potential and with development and so, you are lost.
“We know that we have to improve, but I think it’s the DNA of our sport.
“It’s not just due to the DNA of the current situation. We know that we have to work and we’ll continue, and be sure that from tomorrow morning, I’ll be in the office and push like hell.”
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