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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto believes driver Charles Leclerc suffered the same tyre issues as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday. The Monegasque driver was forced to give up on his team’s gamble of not pitting as they lost the lead.
Leclerc had asked Ferrari if he could make it to the end of the race without pitting, staying on his intermediates for the entire race.
The Italian outfit confirmed he could and Leclerc led for just under 10 laps before he was caught by Valtteri Bottas, who had fresh tyres.
Leclerc then pitted and rejoined in fourth ahead of Sergio Perez, and the 23-year-old overtook Hamilton when the seven-time world champion eventually pitted – but Perez would eventually pass him.
Ultimately, Leclerc finished fourth and paid a heavy price for his last stop – as Hamilton did, dropping from third to fifth.
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Ferrari team principal Binotto believes both drivers were forced to push their new tyres to the limit from the first lap on their new set of intermediate tyres.
This caused their tyres to show more graining than their rivals’ did.
“First of all it happened that there was graining at the back for both, at least certainly for Charles,” Binotto told Sky Italia.
“The track obviously was a bit more dry, but it depended most of all from how much you pushed when you came out of the pits.
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“And Charles coming out having Perez behind didn’t have time to manage the tyres and their temperatures. So the graining started and he had to clean it out.
“I think Hamilton as well in that phase tried to push to catch up with the ones ahead and maybe that’s what happened.”
It was a frustrating outcome for Leclerc and Ferrari, as it seemed like an unlikely win was on the cards.
Binotto was left to rue what could have been as the team missed out on their first win since Sebastian Vettel’s controversial victory at Singapore in 2019.
“For sure we believed and we tried,” Binotto said.
“I have to say we’re a bit bitter right now, for sure we believed that [Leclerc could win].
“I think it’s been brave from our side to try [to win] at that moment. We were easily P3, the risk was to lose P3 for P4. Then it happened, but it could have been a huge opportunity too.
“So it’s right to have tried that.
“When Charles came back on track was anyway ahead of Perez, in those first laps everyone suffered the graining and in some way we paid for that.”
Carlos Sainz fought from the back of the grid to secure a double points-haul for Ferrari to ensure the gap between themselves and McLaren in the championship is just 7.5 points with six races remaining.
“I’m happy with Carlos’ race, with this recovery. He proved today there was the race pace,” added Binotto of Sainz.
Formula 1 returns to Texas for the United States Grand Prix on October 24, with Red Bull’s Verstappen holding a slender six-point lead over Hamilton.
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