Ferrari says Sebastian Vettel achieved “something that had seemed impossible” in managing a one-stop strategy at Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Vettel started from 11th position on Medium tyres at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but rose to fifth place when rivals made their second pit stops.
After a sequence of radio exchanges Ferrari switched from a two- to a one-stop strategy, leaving Vettel with the task of preserving Soft tyres for 36 laps.
Vettel was overhauled by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. but remained at the head of a five-car train to classify seventh.
“The car handled better on the Softs and Seb was able to push more,” said Inaki Rueda, Ferrari’s Head of Race Strategy.
“The aim was to get to lap 50, but despite a series of quick laps, we were unable to open the gap to [Daniel] Ricciardo.
“At this point, we could stick with two stops and risk finishing behind the Renault, or try to go all the way to the flag. We just had to talk to the driver and see if he thought it was on.
“At first, logically enough he was surprised and asked what pace was required to finish in a good position.
“Having evaluated the pros and cons, Seb gave it a go and, thanks to his talent, he managed to do something that had seemed impossible.”
Rueda also suspects that the greater focus on Ferrari’s radio exchanges this year is down to its position within the midfield group.
“Compared to the past, race management is much more complicated,” he said.
“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.”