Leclerc started on medium compound tyres at the Hungaroring and spent the opening stint running third, and then jump teammate Carlos Sainz for second place by obtaining the overcut at the initial round of pitstops.
With a five-lap tyre delta, Leclerc were able to catch race leader George Russell and pass him for P1 before checking a three-second gap at the top of the field.
However when Ferrari brought Leclerc in to the pits by the end of lap 39, the team made a decision to fit hard tyres that struggled to obtain around temperature in the cold weather.
It resulted in Leclerc quickly being overtaken twice by title rival Max Verstappen, who had started 10th, before losing increasingly more time because the stint wore on. He was eventually earned just 15 laps later for a third stop before ultimately finishing sixth.
Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto revealed the team’s simulations said that as the hards will be tricky to obtain around temperature in early stages, these were predicted to function as better tyre for the ultimate stint.
“Whenever we fitted the hard, our simulation was that it might have been a hard handful of laps of warm-up,” Binotto explained. “It could have already been slower to the medium for 10-11 laps, and it would attended back and been faster compared to the end of the stint, also it was a 30-lap stint.
“We were attempting to protect position on Max. It could have been too much time certainly for the softs. Yes, it could have already been difficult in the beginning of the stint, nonetheless it would have keep coming back by the finish.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Leclerc said following the race he wanted to retain the medium tyres so long as possible, and then be called it for the hards. He was moved onto softs at his third stop, but cannot catch the cars ahead.
The P6 finish means Leclerc now sits 80 points behind Verstappen near the top of the drivers’ championship heading in to the summer break.
Numerous drivers struggled with the hard tyres because of the unusually cool conditions through the race, including Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, both of whom lost time through the early section of their stints.
Asked if Ferrari had seen what Alpine’s hard tyre struggles and considered not pitting to cover Verstappen, Binotto replied: “Yes, we discussed it, so it is not that [the strategy] is all written in stone.
“Through the race and considering what’s happening, we have aswell looked at that which was happening with another hard tyres.
“We took all considerations, we discussed what could have been best and that is the choice that people made. It really was not the correct one today.”
But Binotto stressed the larger issue for Ferrari on Sunday was the car’s insufficient pace in comparison to what it saw on Friday, when Leclerc had set the fastest time and impressed on the long runs.
“It is important to say that people believe that the automobile had not been working needlessly to say,” Binotto said. “We didn’t have the speed we were longing for looking back at the Friday, and the pace we’d in the race conditions on Friday. So today was certainly different conditions, a whole lot cooler.
“But overall the speed today had not been great enough, and whatever tyres we were utilizing, I don’t believe we were as effective as we were searching for.”