Perez was running in second place, just ahead Charles Leclercin the middle stage of the Yas Marina race, with the duo engaged in a tight battle for second place in the Drivers’ Championship.
But with Red Bull seeming to have a bit more pace, Ferrari knew his only chance to put Leclerc ahead was through strategy – and that meant forcing Perez to make two saves.
That opportunity presented itself on lap 33, when Ferrari looked like it was going to shoot Perez in an attempt to get Leclerc ahead.
This said to the Monegasque driver: “Box against Red Bull”.
However, the message was not real as Leclerc had long been committed to a one-stop, and Ferrari was only using the call to make it look like he was going to make a two-stop.
The ruse worked when Red Bull responded and immediately dragged Perez into the pits to cover Ferrari.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted after the race that a combination of the condition of Perez’s tires and the fact that “Ferrari was preparing for a clearance” was behind his decision to stop. stop the Mexican.
With Leclerc having no intention of stopping, this meant that Perez had to recover all the ground lost with the tire change, which he ultimately did not do, as he finished 1.3 seconds behind. of its rival Ferrari.
Reflecting on the strategic call, Leclerc told Sky Sports: “I have to say everything we did was exactly what we wanted to do.
“That’s what was planned before. The laps where, I can tell now, where we faked it and made him think we were going to the pits opposite. He took it and went to the second stop . So we did everything perfectly. I’m very proud of our execution.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2nd position, lifts his trophy
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport footage
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto praised the way the strategy was implemented to help Leclerc finish second – especially as this is an area of operation where the Maranello team has made mistakes this season.
“I think the dummy call on Red Bull was definitely a fantastic call from the pits,” Binotto said.
“I think it’s great for the team. It’s great for the strategists, and it’s great to have had a solid race weekend this weekend.
“I think P2 and P2 [in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship] has been the record of the whole season, not just today. But today we definitely did the right job.
“The dummy pit stop on the Red Bull was the right choice. And I think overall we did it right. So happy for them, happy for the team.
“I think Ferrari too, when they make mistakes there’s always a lot of criticism. But also, I know those guys can do very well.”
Leclerc felt the team, which had performed excellently in Abu Dhabi, was all the more impressive given the added pressure placed on them by the battle for the championship position and the rumors circulating about Binotto’s future. .
“We executed the right one, and the one with the most pressure,” he explained.
“Obviously the outside pressure with all the rumors going around as the weekend approaches, and the pressure to hold on to second place in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship.
“We managed to do our best in a situation like this, which makes me very proud of the team.
“I don’t think in pure pace we were stronger than Red Bull. I think Red Bull was always stronger than us. But we pushed them to make mistakes and pushed them to two stops and eventually that paid. So we’re very happy.”
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