The Lap 41 Virtual Safety Car opened up a world of possibilities in Miami, but Ferrari elected not to pit Charles Leclerc late in the race, letting eventual winner Max Verstappen "off the hook," as Christian Horner put it. However, do the facts support the Red Bull Team Principal's claim? In addition, the sensor issue that cost Sergio Perez is examined.
Leclerc surrendered the lead in the Miami Grand Prix on Lap 9; thereafter, Verstappen led 48 laps, enduring the VSC-turned-Safety Car on Lap 41 on his path to victory. Horner stated that Ferrari "would have had a free stop," but Binotto reasoned that Leclerc's ability to challenge Verstappen at the finish would have been limited by a lack of tyre warm-up.
Leclerc held a 23-second advantage over teammate Carlos Sainz at the time of the VSC. Assuming the pit stop under VSC/SC circumstances would have cost him 15 seconds, Leclerc would have had ample time to pit for a new set of tyres.
Ferrari did not have any brand-new medium or soft compounds, but they did have a set of brand-new hard compounds. The graph below depicts Leclerc's predicted pace if he had switched to those tougher tires.
Even if Leclerc's pace would have been nearly sufficient to overcome Verstappen, Red Bull's superior straight-line speed would have made it extremely difficult for Leclerc to pass Verstappen and maintain the lead.