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Ferrari explain how Sainz's retirement could have cost Leclerc victory

Charles Leclerc's win at the Austrian Grand Prix was made possible by a quick-thinking strategy call from the Ferrari pit wall, says the team's chief strategist Inaki Rueda.

Leclerc Verstappen Austria
To news overview © XPB

While Charles Leclerc was able to take victory in last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, his win was placed in jeopardy by the Lap 58 retirement of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz and the subsequent deployment of the Virtual Safety Car.

That's the view of Inaki Rueda, Ferrari's Sporting Director and Head of Race Strategy, who said the introduction of the VSC opened up a pit-stop window that the Scuderia had to make the right call on, with Leclerc leading Red Bull's Max Verstappen by only a few seconds.

"Unfortunately, Carlos suffered an engine failure when he was about to overtake Verstappen, and this deployed the Virtual Safety Car," said Rueda.

"We had to make a choice with Charles at that point. Do we stay out on the brand-new Hard [tyre] or do we come in for another newer Medium?

"The fact that Verstappen had very old Hards persuaded us to fit a new Medium because we were convinced he would do the same."

Ferrari make the correct strategy call

Rueda's hunch proved correct, as both Leclerc and Verstappen dived into the pits on the same lap to each take on a new set of Medium compound rubber, with Leclerc pitting without losing his lead, and ultimately taking Ferrari's second win in as many races.

"Our pit crew delivered five very good pit-stops this weekend and the last one was no exception. Another sub-three seconds," said Rueda.

"Two more races before the summer break. We're fully motivated to get the best possible result out of this."

Leclerc now sits 38 points adrift of Verstappen in the Drivers' standings, while Red Bull hold a 56-point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors' battle.

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