Silverstone was expected to be a severe test of the SF-23’s abilities and the British Grand Prix delivered proof of that, given that a ninth place finish for Charles Leclerc, with Carlos Sainz tenth, did not match the car’s potential as demonstrated on track.
The race. Right from the opening laps, it was clear the SF-23 struggled to deliver a strong race pace, with Charles and Carlos, separated by George Russell in the Mercedes, unable to stay in touch with Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the front. The team called Charles in slightly earlier than planned, precisely to defend from Russell, but the Monegasque’s lack of pace on the Hard tyres meant he was unable to stay ahead. Carlos extended his first stint to lap 26 and the two Ferraris looked to be set to finish in around fifth and seventh places. Further complicating plans was the Safety Car triggered by Kevin Magnussen on lap 33, which allowed those yet to pit to do so in half the time. Leclerc also came in at this point for a second stop taking on his second set of new Mediums. At this point, Carlos was seventh and Charles tenth. Leclerc was aggressive at the restart, making the most of his fresh rubber, while Carlos did his utmost to fend off Sergio Perez, who was on new Softs. On lap 43, Sainz had to give best and as a result of being overtaken, he didn’t have a good line through the last corner, so that he was also passed by Alex Albon and Leclerc. In the closing laps, the British-Thai Williams driver managed to get in Fernando Alonso’s slipstream, therefore able to use DRS and capable of keeping Charles at bay. There were no more changes in the DRS train and so Leclerc finished ninth ahead of his team-mate.
Another back-to-back before the holidays. The World Championship resumes in a fortnight with the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday 23 July, followed one week later by the Belgian GP, prior to the summer break.
Charles Leclerc #16
We lacked pace today and it was a tough race. We stopped early and lost some positions as I struggled to get a good rhythm on the Hards. Then we stopped again, for a new set of Mediums, and I made up a couple of positions at the restart, but then got stuck in a DRS train behind Alex (Albon).
We have some things to review, but our main focus will be to work on our race trim.
Carlos Sainz #55
It was a difficult race. We were not as quick as expected and as a consequence we were unable to fight with the cars ahead. I managed to extend the stint with the Medium tyres and with the Hard I was fast. Unfortunately, the Safety Car came out at the worst possible time.
I did my best at the restart, but battling on old Hards against other cars with fresher tyres is very difficult here. I feel that better results have been slipping away from us lately, but we’ll keep working and pushing relentlessly, starting from the next race in Hungary.
Frédéric Vasseur - Team Principal
Our plan was to do a one-stop race, running Medium then Hard. We pitted both drivers before the Safety Car, which definitely put us in a bad situation. However, we cannot just blame this episode to explain our finishing positions.
The start of the issue with us was on Friday when Charles wasn’t able to run in FP2 and so we only had a long run on the Soft from which we had concerns about degradation. That’s why we decided to go with Medium-Hard, which proved to be too conservative a choice as the degradation was lower than expected. That is an important lesson for us.
We could have done a much better job here in Silverstone with the package that we have now. Next race will be Hungary, on a very different kind of track with hotter temperatures and being able to adapt the car package to the various tracks coming up will be a crucial element. We are continuing to develop the car and will have new parts soon but it’s so tight between P2 and P10 that the smallest mishap makes a big difference.