Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Leclerc won’t make “silly comments” over Ferrari team orders

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Charles Leclerc says he wants to understand exactly what was behind Ferrari’s team orders calls in the Chinese Grand Prix before making any “silly comments” about their decisions.

He finished the race fifth having been third at the end of the first lap. Leclerc was told to let Sebastian Vettel through during the first stint. That left him vulnerable to Max Verstappen, who jumped ahead of him during the pit stops and stayed there.

Leclerc said the first stint was “a little bit messy” and he wants more information about Ferari’s tactics.

“With Seb I need to understand the full picture, see the full picture to speak with the engineers and understand the decision. I’m sure there’s an explanation behind this decision and I will understand it. Anyway, it’s past.

“It has not been a great race for me. Overall the weekend has not been as strong as I wanted driving in quali was OK but FP1, FP2, FP3 and also going in the race without any mileage on the high-fuel runs was not ideal. Overall today was not a good day but we’ll come back stronger.”

Leclerc ran long before his second stop and briefly delayed Valtteri Bottas, which he said was also a tactical decision by Ferrari.

“If you look at my own race I think obviously we [should] have pitted earlier. If you look at the [team’s] race I think they did the right thing trying to slow down the Mercedes for Seb to come back which I believe was the target.

“It didn’t work but it was the target so at least we tried and we will look forward now.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

35 comments on “Leclerc won’t make “silly comments” over Ferrari team orders”

  1. Same thing they did with Raikkonen almost every race. It’s just how they operate. The second Ferrari is just there to interfere with the competitor’s cars.

    1. I agree – but I also believe that if Leclerc shows he is capable of winning then the Ferrari heads could think it is time to re-think just who is the “second” Ferrari.

      1. I think it’s difficult for Leclerc to “show he is capable of winning” when Ferrari continue to prioritize Seb over Leclerc. Besides laps 17-19, 27 and 32-36, Leclerc generally had the faster lap times over his teammate. Ferrari seriously miscalculated when they thought that Seb’s car had faster pace than Leclerc’s, which quickly proved not to be the case. Not only did Leclerc follow team orders without whining, his post-race comments were pure class. So Charles Leclerc has proven his maturity at just age 23 and has also proven that he can post equal if not faster lap times than Seb. His skill is there to see, plain as day. Ferrari simply wants to prioritize Seb as its team strategy for winning. Like many others have commented, Ferrari has always prioritized a single driver while using the 2nd driver as “cannon fodder” to slow down other cars.

    2. Indeed, @f1osaurus, @nullapax. And it shows in how Kimi now seems to enjoy his racing more at Sauber again. I am a bit curious how long Leclerc will play along, and whether it wears him down.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        14th April 2019, 10:41

        He can either ignore team orders OR be the next driver in the Irvine-Salo-Barrichello-Massa lineup…

        Mercedes will obviously run away with the 2019 season as well. Which is absolutely fine of course – congratulations to them, well done. Congrats also to all Corporate Interests everywhere. It was an interesting season (for 2 races). :)

    3. Disappointing. Especially since they prefer the inferior driver.

  2. It was quite clear Vettel didn’t have enough pace to justify putting him in front. If they instead concentrated on strategy to beat RB they’d at least keep 4th place.

  3. It maybe too early to call but team was much better organised under Arrivabene than it is under Binnoto. This team unfortunately doesnt deserve talent or maturity of Leclerc.

    1. well be didn’t deserve to stay at front today. i think the team was rational today even if it didn’t quite work out.

  4. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    14th April 2019, 9:54

    Why does Ferrari not understand how to handle two equal drivers? I know it’s been 10 years since they had that situation, but they are seriously bad at it. Also Leclerc’s strategy was an absolute mess, they should have left him out until he got passed by Verstappen and then pitted for fastest lap.

    1. they thought he had more pace. over the whole race, charles had less pace than seb, this time around.

      1. Which hardly justifies leaving him out while he was losing three seconds a lap, in a futile effort to interfere with Mercedes. A tactic which cost him fourth place.

        The switch was arguable. Sacrificing his race in an utterly vain attempt to help Vettel was both stupid and disrespectful.
        Fortunately, Leclerc is both smart and respectful, and will make his response on the track.

    2. “Also Leclerc’s strategy was an absolute mess, they should have left him out until he got passed by Verstappen and then pitted for fastest lap.” – Indeed. They should’ve pitted him 1L after VET (=2L after VER) for his 1st stop and 1L after VER at the 2nd stops. When they chose not to and play the long game with LEC to hold up BOT instead, the best thing to do after BOT overtook him, was to let VET immediately past and stay out. They had truly nothing to lose by doing so, bc pitting would mean VER would take over 4th for sure, while staying out would mean VER had to make up around 11s in less than 14 laps and do an overtake. Even íf VER would be able to do it, LEC would still be able to cut his loss short to just 1 point by coming in and do the FLAP.

      Truly unbelieveable.
      @leonardodicappucino

    3. Thats how Ferrari have always operated, Number 1 and Number 2 drivers. Lec has to seize the opportunity to become the number 1 driver by regularly out qualifying Vet (tough task) and being faster in the races. I fear qualifying is not his strength and he might end up being another Kimi at Ferrari, a clear Number 2.

  5. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    14th April 2019, 10:10

    Vettel and Leclerc were equal, like they had the same lap times for half the race. If they wanted to switch the cars, they should have done so in the pits.

    1. @panagiotism-papatheodorou You kept insisting that Vettel was faster and Ferrari should swap them on the live comments feed. So afterwards at least you realized that you were wrong all along?

      Like Toto Wolff said on RTL, they were at the same pace, but DRS helped Vettel gain some time when he was behind Leclerc. Plus vice versa after they were swapped. Although Vettel might have been faster, but since he so quickly ruined his tyres he never could show it.

      If Ferrari were afraid of an undercut, they should have simply stopped one of their cars a bit earlier themselves. Instead of losing time on track and then finding out that Vettel wasn’t faster at all. The gap to Bottas actually started growing faster and Verstappen suddenly came closer after the swap (which allowed for the undercut).

      They were so busy tying to help Vettel, using Leclec as a pawn, that they almost lost out on both cars.

  6. I think putting Vettel ahead was probably the right thing to do at the time as Vettel looked faster & a better bet to catch the Mercedes, Not just at that point in the race but over the weekend as a whole.

    I also think that Vettel locking up/running wide a few times meant he didn’t pull away from Leclerc as much as he otherwise would have. I mean Vettel was pretty consistently in DRS range of Leclerc while Leclerc was very rarely within DRS range of Vettel.

    It’s easy for fans/media people to look at it & say they sholdn’t have done it, But if they believe that Vettel is faster at that point & has a chance of getting closer to pressuring the Mercedes then you have to make the switch. It may not always work out but you have to try it, If you don’t then you have already lost.

    1. @stefmeister Leclerc was just as consistently in DRS range of Vettel. Vettel only pulled away a little for the first two laps after the swap. Vettel then ruined his tyres in an attempt to prove he was faster. From then on they were slower than Leclerc was before all that drama. Which allowed Bottas to pull away even further and Verstappen even closer opening up the undercut.

      Fair enough that it makes sense they gave Vettel a try. Seemed like a bad move to me even before it happened, but indeed they could try. That they then ruined Leclercs race after Vettel messed up his tyres was just dumb.

      It’s also disgusting because instead of giving Leclerc a chance of a good race result, instead they used him as a pawn to hinder Bottas.

      1. It’s also disgusting because instead of giving Leclerc a chance of a good race result, instead they used him as a pawn to hinder Bottas.

        Indeed, specially when Leclerc comes from a disappointing race at Bahrein

  7. With Seb I need to understand the full picture, see the full picture to speak with the engineers and understand the decision. I’m sure there’s an explanation behind this decision and I will understand it.

    Charles calmness level is over 9000. He keep making Binotto embarrassed by using straight but subtle words to expressed his objection.

    I agree with @enzoli, Seb should backed down a bit and let Charles catch Max. Lewis might have boring cruise race and only want a small talk, but he did asked if Valtteri was in trouble. Seb just didn’t have the same self confidence, and it won’t be long for Binotto to realize that.

  8. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    14th April 2019, 10:56

    rubbish decision by ferrari

  9. “trying to slow down the Mercedes for Seb to come back”

    Lec please dont become another Kimi.
    Without the team orders it very well could have been Lec on the podium with Vet finishing P4 or P5.
    Depends on Lec he wants to be another Kimi or the new Number 1 in Ferrari.

    1. But i think under Binnoto ignoring orders might be worse for your career than Arrivabene. Today Ferrari are having trouble with both drivers competing with/against each other, and a driver throwing a spanner in the works might make things worse. I think under Arrivabene a bold move like that would not be such a bad thing.

  10. I didn’t like the initial team order (still don’t) but see why they needed to see if Seb could have got closer to Bottas. A switch back wouldn’t have worked as Max was even closer.

    Seb thought he was quicker as he had DRS, Charles kept with Seb after the overtake, as……… he had DRS.

    Ferrari just seem to pull these moves all the time and they rarely seem to go well. Of course these will back Seb at the moment, but maybe just let them race for now.

    1. @garns

      If they just let them both race, they would probably have finished P3 and P4 in the race. lnstead, they gave unnecessary team orders to swap positions although neither driver was faster than the other. Then they had to use Leclerc as a pawn although it looked highly unlikely that Vettel was going to catch up to Bottas anyways … and they lose a position to a red bull in the bargain.

      Ferrari really don’t deserve another championship

  11. Leclerc just needs to stop listening and fight for himself. Leave it up to Ferrari to decide if they want to get rid of one of the best young talents on the grid – I’m sure there are plenty of other teams who would happily sign him.

  12. That is what I predicted. Leclerc is a Ferrari driver (and a good one) but has to comply what Ferrari tells him to do. One more dis-obeying an order and Kimi is back in the seat. Leclerc has nothing to say.

    1. Oh, yes, clever move that would be for ferrari, can’t bring the fight to mercedes, get rid of a verstappen-schumacher like driver.

      1. This would indeed be a stupid move of Ferrari, but like other teams Ferrari will never tolerate any driver who doesn’t comply to team orders.

  13. I’m sorry but Leclerc is never going to be champion being the Mr Nice Mild Guy that he is, he should have ignored the team orders, Ferrari know the rival teams want him and they would simply back down from the team orders, shockingly bad tactics from Ferrari as usual, no wonder these clowns haven’t won a title since 2007.

  14. Everyone should calm down.. There is no need to start all this, to be honest at the time Verstapen was catching them both with Leclerc in front they had to switch with Sebastian because he was faster and of they kept things the way they did they would have probably lost third place also because Lecler was struggling, when seb got past he Bagan to pull away untill his lock ups which ruined his tyres, also Leclerc could have put in the fastest lap of the race of he was faster than Vettel but he wasn’t I think what Ferrari did was right to switch them but what was wrong was to keep Leclerc out too long they should have pitted him as soon as vettel went tin he would have gotten past max eventually then Ferrari would have gotten a P3-p4 finish it was obvious…. I also recon if the switch was made as soon as Vettel told them he was faster two laps before the switch was made he would have been in Bottas DRS range because at the time Leclerc was haveing a good visual on bottas but was falling back

  15. Everyone should calm down.. There is no need to start all this, to be honest at the time Verstapen was catching them both with Leclerc in front they had to switch with Sebastian because he was faster and of they kept things the way they did they would have probably lost third place also because Lecler was struggling, when seb got past he Bagan to pull away untill his lock ups which ruined his tyres, also Leclerc could have put in the fastest lap of the race of he was faster than Vettel but he wasn’t I think what Ferrari did was right to switch them but what was wrong was to keep Leclerc out too long they should have pitted him as soon as vettel went tin he would have gotten past max eventually then Ferrari would have gotten a P3-p4 finish it was obvious…. I also recon if the switch was made as soon as Vettel told them he was faster two laps before the switch was made he would have been in Bottas DRS range because at the time Leclerc was haveing a good visual on bottas but was falling back

  16. If Leclerc is an angel, how did his qualification was bad? Vettel had better time.
    During Practice time , i also have not noticed him. Vettel’s name was number 1 during first practice.
    Vettel has the fastest lap until the Gasley’s soft tyre final race lap?
    All of you, you, who are thinking that Leclerc is Ferrari Saviour, are greatly mistaken.

  17. If Leclerc is an angel, how did his qualification was so bad? Vettel had better time and you are telling that 4 tmes world champion is not good enough driver.
    During Practice time , i also have not noticed Leclerc.
    Vettel’s name was number 1 during first practice.
    Vettel has the fastest lap until the Gasley’s soft tyre final race lap?
    All of you, you, who are thinking that Leclerc is Ferrari Saviour, are greatly mistaken. He needs time.
    Media is creating chaos in Ferrari. Everything looks bright and easy for Mercedes this year.
    I have never seen such support of one almost unknown driver by such great number of people.
    Seb is always working under pressure and critics. Where is this animosity leading?

    1. Hemorrhoids, obviously.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.