A botched Ferrari strategy
Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix because Ferrari didn’t play the team tactics game as well as Mercedes all weekend and that started with the tyre choices.
The story coming away from this weekend in Monza has really got to be: “How did Ferrari, with the fastest car, a front row lockout and huge home crowd support, come away further behind in the championship than when they went into it?” To really look at how this unfolded, we need to go back eight weeks to the tyre selection process.
Ferrari arrived in Monza with only one set of soft tyres for Sebastian Vettel and only two for Kimi Raikkonen. We’ve seen other people do this and I’ve never really understood why teams put themselves into a corner like this. The Pirelli tyres are extraordinarily tricky to manage — much more than the Bridgestones or Michelins we had previously in F1, and by now every team knows that. I can sort of understand bringing only one set of the hardest tyre because it’s very rarely used, but certainly with the two softer choices, you want to give yourself enough of a chance to run the tyre in free practice so you get a good idea of what you’ve got when you bolt it on in the Grand Prix. Yes, they all have simulation tools and reports from dozens of engineers and “tyre groups,”but there’s nothing like good, oldfashioned real life practice sometimes.
Lewis Hamilton really forced his way to victory this weekend and Mercedes played the team tactics game much better than its Italian rivals. There was a feeling in the paddock that the Ferrari was the quicker car all weekend, but the qualifying battle amongst the top three was closer than everyone expected. It truly was one of the best sessions I’ve seen in a long time.
The most confusing thing from qualifying was Ferrari’s decision not to back their main title contender. The slipstream effect on the straights in Monza far outweighs the loss of downforce in the corners. At other
Extending his lead: Lewis Hamilton really forced his way to victory at the Italian Grand Prix.