Ferrari has admitted that they used a trick against Red Bull during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. They apparently used a fake radio call which led Red Bull to pit Sergio Perez and alter his strategy during the last race of the season.
During the middle part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sergio Perez was leading Charles Leclerc as they ran P2 and P3 respectively. The duo was fighting for the second position in the Driver’s Championship.
The equation was simple, whoever finishes ahead in the race, claims the second position in the championship. It was very evident throughout the weekend that Red Bull was the faster car of the two.
The only way Ferrari could have gotten their car ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez was by strategy. This meant that Ferrari had to force Red Bull into a two-stop strategy.
The Ferrari masterplan came into effect during the 33rd Lap of the race. Ferrari came on the radio and asked Leclerc to box so that they could undercut the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Leclerc’s Race Engineer told him over the radio, “Box opposite Red Bull“
Ferrari finally get its strategy right
However, it turned out that the message was a dummy. Leclerc had committed himself to a one-stop long ago and there was no way he was stopping again. Ferrari used the radio message to give Red Bull the impression that they were doing a two-stop.
The trick worked and Red Bull immediately called Sergio Perez into the pits. This was done to cover off the threat of the undercut.
The fact that Red Bull had made the decision to pit Perez as a response to Ferrari’s radio call was later confirmed by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. He said that apart from Perez’s tyre condition they were influenced by the fact that “Ferrari were gearing up for an undercut“
Given that Charles Leclerc did not stop anymore during the race, Sergio Perez had to make up all the lost ground. The Mexican failed to do so and eventually finished 1.3 seconds behind Charles Leclerc
This meant that Charles Leclerc claimed P2 and thus finished 2nd in the overall driver’s championship behind Max Verstappen. Sergio Perez finished third in the championship.