Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer says he was surprised that Ferrari didn’t look to swap drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in the early stages of last weekend's British Grand Prix.
Leading the race after Max Verstappen had been hobbled by floor damage, Sainz appeared to be holding up Leclerc, but Ferrari delayed ordering Sainz to let his teammate by until Lap 30, with both cars under threat from Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.
Following a late-race Safety Car period, Leclerc stayed out, while Sainz, Hamilton and Sergio Perez all dived into the pits for fresh rubber.
When racing resumed, Leclerc was unable to keep his freshly-shod rivals behind him and dropped from first to fourth, with Sainz taking his maiden Grand Prix win.
Ferrari's strategy calls questioned
But with Leclerc the leading Ferrari driver in the Drivers' Championship, Palmer questioned why the Scuderia are not doing more to prioritise Leclerc's progress in 2022 over that of Sainz.
"To my mind, Leclerc is undoubtedly the team leader at Ferrari," Palmer told F1.com.
"However, it looks like the Scuderia aren't willing to accept it yet and are trying to play fair across their two cars.
"It does seem slightly foolhardy not to back Leclerc in what is surely Ferrari's best chance to win the championship this season.
"Yes, Carlos Sainz took his first pole and win at the British Grand Prix, and he's been showing much improved performances recently, but this race demonstrated fairly clearly that Leclerc is still stronger at the moment."
Viewed by others:
Palmer "surprised" at Ferrari's handling of events
Leclerc's superior speed to Sainz at Silverstone came despite the Monegasque racing with a damaged front wing, having lost an endplate following contact with Perez in the opening stages of the race.
Ferrari estimated that the damage cost Leclerc five points of downforce, equivalent to 0.1 or 0.2s per lap, and Palmer said he was surprised that his progress was not significantly impeded.
"Either way, despite this deficit, Leclerc was faster and was frustrated over the radio at being held up behind Sainz," Palmer continued.
"This season, there have only been two races where Sainz has looked to have demonstrably strong race pace, Monaco and Canada – and in these two, the comparison with Leclerc hasn't been possible due to traffic for the Monegasque driver.
"Given all of this, and the fact that they were both racing a resurgent Lewis Hamilton, I'm surprised at Ferrari's indecision at swapping their two drivers early on in the race; it was clearly hurting the prospects of their main contender."
F1 Podcast: Ferrari win – but did they botch their strategy again?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the British Grand Prix, including Ferrari's questionable strategy calls.