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Binotto says Ferrari strategy prioritised unlucky Leclerc during British GP

The arrival of the Safety Car late into Sunday afternoon’s British Grand Prix saw the field close up, drivers pitting for fresh tyres, and Charles Leclerc losing his lead, and subsequent third victory of the season.

It was celebration time in the Ferrari garage at the British Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz secured a stunning win at Silverstone. It was Sainz’s maiden victory, secured from pole on his 150th attempt, making him only the second Spanish driver to stand on the top step of the rostrum after two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso. There has been a total of 15 Spanish F1 drivers since the sport's inception in 1950, and of them only four have had a podium finish: Sainz, Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa and Alfonso da Portago. However, while there were celebrations galore, there was one member of the team that - although happy for Sainz - was disappointed that he was unable to add another victory to his name: Charles Leclerc. Leclerc was left frustrated after going from leading the event with only a handful of laps to go to finally crossing the line in fourth place.

Binnotto says Leclerc deserves British GP win

Team boss Mattia Binotto sympathised with his Monegasque driver and believes that he would have gone on to win the race were it not for the intervention of the late-race Safety Car. "For sure, I can understand his frustration. When you’re comfortably leading a race with just a few laps to go and you don’t win, then it’s natural to feel disappointment," he said, as he debriefed the race weekend. "But Charles’ disappointment is also our disappointment: we win together and we lose together. We’re as frustrated as he is about his result, because the way he drove was amazing and he showcased once again how strong a driver he is. "Charles thoroughly deserved to win the race, if it wouldn’t have been for the Safety Car."

Binotto: It was common sense to prioritise the lead car

There was plenty of controversy at the end of the race when the Italian-based squad were quizzed on why they pitted Sainz for fresh rubber, behind the Safety Car, but not Leclerc. As a result of being left out on track, Leclerc was extremely vulnerable to Sainz, who was right behind him on fresh Soft rubber, as well as Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. Binotto explained that leaving Leclerc out on track was a "common sense" strategy to ensure they protected their leading position in case Mercedes then opted to stay out and take the lead away from them. "It was common sense to prioritise the lead car by protecting track positions. There’s nothing unusual in this strategy, we always prioritise the lead car and therefore Charles in this situation," he explained. "He was on fresher tyres at that point, and if he had pitted, our opponents would have done the exact opposite and gained track position on almost new hard tyres. Just think of Lewis Hamilton at last year’s season finale in Abu Dhabi when he stayed out on track. "At the same time, we decided to put Carlos on the opposite strategy in order to cover all opportunities. If we wouldn’t have done that split strategy, we would have risked losing the race and handing the win to our opponents."

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