Race management is harder for Ferrari this season because they are now in the midfield battle, according to their Head of Strategy, Inaki Rueda.
Ferrari has spent the majority of the current Formula 1 season qualifying in the lower top ten positions with Charles Leclerc, while Sebastian Vettel has only made it out of Q3 on three occasions, and this has meant the team are now fighting in the midfield with the likes of McLaren, Renault and Racing Point rather than Mercedes and Red Bull.
There are a number of flaws with the design of the SF1000, meaning the Maranello-based squad have lost a significant amount of competitiveness this year and Rueda has admitted that Ferrari’s current position on the grid has made race management more complicated.
“Certainly, compared to the past, race management is much more complicated.” commented Rueda.
“It’s a fact that this year we are fighting with a group of teams and drivers whose performance is all very close and so it’s easy to find yourself having to manage scenarios that change lap after lap.
“Up to last year, the fight was only with a few teams and behind the top three there was an abyss, therefore there was hardly ever a problem with traffic.
“You just had to open a gap before the first stop and then everything followed on more or less to an equal model with few variables.
“That’s not the case today and so the talk with the drivers is more frequent and intense and it’s normal that you talk and change your mind, depending on what’s happening on track.”
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Sebastian Vettel was in a lot of heated dialogue with his team in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, when the team decided to switch him to a one stop strategy midway through the race.
And, although Vettel ended up falling down the order to finish the race in seventh, Rueda believes that Ferrari did make the right choices in regards to strategy.
He also added that heated conversations do arise when they need to get the drivers to understand why changes are being made, and that they are lucky to have two drivers who take a great deal of interest in the strategy process.
“Strategies are based on mathematical models but it’s down to the drivers to apply them and they are not programmable computers.
“Therefore you first have to make them understand how you arrive at certain choices and make them part of the process.
“We are lucky to have two drivers who take a lot of interest in the race simulations and the various options and we spend a lot of time during the weekend talking about this and the behaviour of the tyres.
“Honestly, I think the choices made in the last few races have been the right ones and have helped us make up some of the places that we had lost in qualifying, given how hard it is to overtake on track.
“I think that, also thanks to good tyre management from our drivers, on Sundays we have often managed to maximise the potential at our disposal.
“But there is always room to improvement, and the most important thing is to improve the performance of the car.”