Charles Leclerc was left disappointed with fourth place in the Mexican Grand Prix as it marked the second consecutive race he has failed to win from pole position.
Max Verstappen’s grid penalty after qualifying saw Leclerc promoted to pole position and he duly led the opening stint after retaining the lead at the start. However, Ferrari opted for a two-stop strategy that ultimately proved the wrong move, with Leclerc dropping to fourth behind the one-stopping Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
“Well disappointed I am, of course,” Leclerc said. “Every time you start first you always want to win and the two last times I started first I didn’t win, so I’m not happy with that. I think it’s pretty clear why and we will learn from this.”
Although he started second in Japan at the previous race, Leclerc was on pole the round before in Russia and finished third, but on Sunday he felt the strategic decision was the right one at the time.
“To be completely honest we wanted to cover from (Alex) Albon, which we did,” he continued. “And then from then on, I think it was very difficult to do better because with the two-stop it was very difficult to stay behind the cars and to overtake at the end even with a very good pit stop.
“I just did my race and obviously I also thought in the car that at that time it was probably the right thing to do to cover Albon’s position so I was not too concerned. Then I realized later in the race it was not the right choice, but there was no reasons for me to be angry on the radio.”
And team principal Mattia Binotto says it was only a long way into the race that it became evident Leclerc’s strategy was not the ideal one.
“I think we realized only very late,” Binotto said. “When Charles stopped for us it was still too early to gamble on the one stop, it would have been too risky, not only for tire degradation but for tire wear as well, you can look and analyze at the data.
“Certainly the gamble they (Mercedes) did was the right gamble, they took some risks to win and I think the risks went to their merit, that’s the way it is. Maybe we should have taken more risks – it’s difficult to judge, after the result it’s easy to say yes.
“After Friday and Saturday, we were certainly not expecting such a long life on the tires. We need to look back why it behaves like that, something to learn. But I think everyone was quite surprised, I think even the people pitting early for one-stop took a gamble, I don’t think that was their initial intention.”