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Ferrari Explains Tire Call That Ruined Imola Chances

Inaccurate weather forecast, breakdown in communication behind Ferrari implosion at Imola, says Giuliano Salvi…

Photo: Clement Luck/DPPI

Ferrari has explained the tire call that cost it a strong chance of victory in its home round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Imola, as it left all three of its 499Ps out on slicks during a mid-race rain shower.

The Italian manufacturer looked to be in a strong position to score a first victory of the year at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, with its two factory-entered cars running first and second at the halfway point before the weather deteriorated in the penultimate hour.

Toyota was first to react to the rain by bringing in both its GR010 Hybrids to change to wet tires on lap 135, with Porsche also opting to bring in its No. 6 entry on the same lap.

Two laps later, the No. 5 Porsche was also brought in to change to wets, but Ferrari continued to circulate on track with all three of its cars, including the third-string No. 83 AF Corse machine, losing between 8 and 12 seconds a lap to the wet-shod cars.

It wasn’t until lap 139 that all three Ferraris came into the pits for wet tires, with the delay costing them more than a minute compared to the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid that went on to take an unexpected win.

The top Ferrari crew at the finish was the No. 50 car of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, as Fuoco fought back from seventh position to clinch fourth, showing strong pace once the track had dried and the field returned to slick tires.

Ferrari’s race and test team manager Giuliano Salvi later revealed that a combination of an inaccurate weather forecast and a breakdown in communication that meant the strategies across the three cars were not split was behind its misstep.

“The information that we had on our side was obviously wrong,” Salvi told reporters post-race. “We thought the weather would be just temporary. The drivers felt it was just the last sector that was critical but the rest of the track was possible to manage.

“But the situation didn’t go in the right way. Here we need to revise our chain of communication because for sure it was a mistake. We based this [decision] on some scenarios that were wrong. But our strategy is not to point fingers at somebody.

“We are the same group that won Le Mans last year as beginners. There we did it right and we were heroes, now we are zero.

“At the moment it’s not clear why, but for sure we should have split the cars and we tried to do it, but in the end we didn’t do it. We need to revise in details all the procedures because it was a clear mistake.”

Salvi further explained that Ferrari’s weather information indicated that the shower that turned the race on its head was “something temporary”, adding: “The drivers were happy and they felt there was the chance to keep going [on slicks].

“The critical point was the understanding of the weather forecast. Our radar was showing that the situation [would get] worse long before it happened. So we start not to believe the radar. That’s how it happened.

“We thought it was the kind of situation that you don’t need to rely on the radar too much. It was a clear mistake, but it’s something we still need to understand.”

Salvi was keen to highlight the speed of the 499P in dry conditions, as Ferrari locked out the top three positions in qualifying and enjoyed a dominant spell early in the race in a turnaround in form compared to the season-opening Qatar 1812km.

“The positive is that the car is not like it was in Qatar; especially in the dry the car was behaving really well,” he said.

“We probably overachieved last year by winning Le Mans, but we are the same young team and sometimes sh*t happens. This was for sure a sh*tty day. It’s really a shame and sorry for all the people who came to support us.

“For sure we need to do a better job and I’m pretty sure as we showed last year we can take better decisions.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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