Binotto says they knew Verstappen's undercut would catch one Ferrari at least
Mattia Binotto admits that Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen would have anyways undercut at least one Ferrari as things stood in F1 Chinese GP.
One of the biggest talking points from the F1 1000 weekend at Shanghai International Circuit was the calls made by Ferrari, especially on the team order front and then the strategy for Charles Leclerc in particular.
Leclerc went past Sebastian Vettel at the start of the Chinese GP to take third after Vettel was slowed down by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. The Monegasque steadied in third but his teammate was close behind like Leclerc was behind Vettel in Bahrain.
Vettel looked in a better shape which prompted Ferrari to ask Leclerc to let the German by - much to the disappointment to the Monegasque. Vettel couldn't pull away at first but had a good gap built as the team put Leclerc on a different strategy then.
The race converged in a way that the threat of Verstappen grew bigger as the Chinese GP progressed and it was certain with the pace of the Dutchman that he would have passed at least one of the Ferrari cars by undercut as per Binotto.
"I think with an undercut Verstappen would've anyway...[I mean] one of our two drivers would've been undercut, whoever was the driver," he said. "As team perspective, I think that wouldn't have changed.
"That's why again I think the choice was simply try everything we could at that stage." It happened that way with Verstappen nearly taking on Vettel post the German's stop - he was already a good chunk ahead of Leclerc by then though
It forced Ferrari to put Leclerc on Plan B where he was pushed deep to pit late on both occasions - the second time though was done to cover off Bottas as the target was to keep the Finn behind as much to help the team gain as much possible.
"I think if you look at my own race, we would have pitted earlier and if you look at the team race, I think they did the right thing - trying to slow down the Mercedes for Seb to come back which was I believe the target," said Leclerc.
"It didn't work but at least we tried and we can only look forward now." It looked like Leclerc would catch Verstappen by the end of Chinese GP to take fourth but he didn't have enough legs to get through as he also complained of gear shifting issue.
[Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]