Feud for thought as Ferrari manage fallout between Vettel and Leclerc, Latest Others News - The New Paper

Feud for thought as Ferrari manage fallout between Vettel and Leclerc

Scarlet scuderia boss admits they need to be clearer with pre-race instructions

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto admitted that they need to be more precise with their pre-race instructions to their drivers, following a radio feud over team orders in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc started from his fourth consecutive pole position and gave Sebastian Vettel a slip-stream that saw the German take the lead - and then refuse to give it back to the Monegasque.

When the four-time world champion pulled up and retired with an engine failure on lap 28, causing a safety-car intervention, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton grabbed the lead and went on to score the 82nd victory of his career, edging him closer to a sixth world title.

"We had asked Charles to grant Seb the slip-stream because it was the best scenario to be first and second at the first corner," said Binotto.

"But maybe we have to be more precise before the races. We will talk to them to review what happened at the start."

Leclerc complained vigorously on the team radio as Vettel pulled clear and made it virtually impossible for them to swop positions as they sought to take advantage of running on soft tyres, while Mercedes were on mediums in the opening laps.

Binotto added that he had no issues about Vettel's decision to push hard after taking the lead.

"Seb was very fast and we were very happy for him," he said.

"Today, his race was perfect. If he didn't have to retire, we would have held second place."

But to win, he said, "we had to be perfect - and we haven't been perfect today".

Leclerc finished third behind Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The Ferrari youngster, 21, was heard venting his frustrations on team radio during the race, saying, "You put me behind, I respected everything", but he toned down after the race.

"Everything was respected," said Leclerc, pointing out that he had repeated this on team radio, even when he prompted the team to manage the situation more clearly.

"At the start, I went to the left to give Seb the slip-stream. I knew he would overtake and then we just had to swop back - which we did at the pit-stop later in the race."

However, Binotto denied that they let Leclerc pit early to undercut Vettel and get the lead back.

He said on the F1 website: "We didn't do that for the purpose of the undercut, there was always time to swop later on.

"The reason is... we knew in case of the safety car, we would have been vulnerable, so keeping Seb ahead on track was for us the best situation. So we just called him when the tyres were too worn, and that was the right moment to do it."


Vettel, meanwhile, insisted that they had an agreement.

"I spoke with Charles in particular before the race. It was quite clear, but I don't know, maybe I missed something," he said.

"I'm sure we will talk about it, but obviously it is bitter today because we wanted to have the cars finishing one and two. It's not the result that we wanted."

Binotto insisted that it's still a luxury having to handle both Leclerc and Vettel, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff would beg to differ.

"It shows you that it's not trivial at all to manage two drivers who have the aspiration to win," said Wolff, who had to deal with the fallout of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg battling for wins and titles from 2013-16.

"As a team, we have been through these situations and it's certainly not easy." - REUTERS, AFP