Sainz: Ferrari strategy improvements ‘purely down to the car’


Ferrari has clearly improved its strategy operations over time, but Carlos Sainz insists recent gains are “purely down” to the Scuderia fielding a much better car this year.

Race strategy has been a significant weak point for Ferrari in the past, with Charles Leclerc and Sainz often losing out on valuable points or potential race victories due to a series of poor or mistimed tactical decisions.

This deficiency was particularly frequent during the Italian outfit’s 2022 season, which led to significant changes on the Ferrari pitwall for 2023 at the behest of then new team principal Fred Vasseur.

Progressively, operations have improved, and so far this season, Ferrari’s drivers have been well-guided in their efforts by those calling the shots on the gantry.

Last weekend in Japan, Sainz and Leclerc followed different tyre strategies in the 53-lap race, but both drivers benefitted from their respective plans, eventually concluding their race behind the two Red Bulls in third and fourth position.

Sainz, who won in Melbourne and finished third in Bahrain and at Suzuka, rightly acknowledged Ferrari’s strategy gains but emphasized the pivotal role of the Scuderia's SF-24 car in driving the team's present form.

“We've made progress on strategy over the last three years, progressively, but if you see a jump this year on strategy, it's purely down to the car," Sainz contended.

"I think just having a car that allows you to have flexibility on strategy is something that last year we couldn't have, so we were boxed in to stop at certain laps."

Last year, Leclerc and Sainz often qualified well, only to see their strong positions evaporate due to tyre wear that eroded their race pace, leaving them frustrated and sliding down the order.

Sainz feels these limitations often rendered strategy calls irrelevant. No matter what tactic Ferrari employed, it was difficult to make it work consistently due to the car's inherent weaknesses.

This year, better tyre management and improved performance has allowed Ferrari’s strategists to make calls with greater confidence, knowing their car has the capability to execute them effectively.

“We couldn’t extend [our stints],” Sainz continued. “We had so much deg that it looked always like people could extend and then come back on us on a harder tyre.

“Last year, we were just zero flexible and we couldn’t do anything… So it looked like we were not getting the strategy right a lot of times.

“But when you have a car that is better on tyres, two drivers that can push on the car more often and you have that extra flexibility, your strategy also looks better. I’m not underestimating the progress we’ve done, it’s just I really think this helps a lot.”

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