Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Vettel expected to be quicker after Ferrari let him past Leclerc

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel said he expected he would be able to lap more quickly than he did after Ferrari told Charles Leclerc to let him through during the Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari swapped their drivers in the first stint after asking Vettel if he could lap quicker than Leclerc, who was running ahead of him. At the time Vettel replied that he could, but at the end of the race he apologised to the team for not making more progress once he was waved by.

“Sorry for the first stint,” said Vettel on the radio. “I thought I could go quite a bit faster.”

Speaking in the FIA press conference after the race Vettel explained how the change of positions came about.

“I felt I was faster in the car,” he said. “I was asked if I can go faster. I answered that I felt I can. I was a bit surprised when I was in free air, not surprised, but I was struggling a bit to put the laps together.

“Once I found the rhythm I think I was able to chip away but obviously the objective was to try and catch Mercedes at that point obviously the gap was already quite big.”

Ferrari also imposed team orders on its drivers in the previous two races, also in Vettel’s favour. He complained about the way some media have covered the team’s tactics.

“I knew the moment it was happening that I would have to face these questions. I’m not sure I want to answer because I’m a little bit against the way that you, all of you work because you take bits out of answers here and there and put it into the wrong light.

“So if you ask me again in half an hour in the paddock maybe I’ll give you a straight answer and you don’t write it down. It seems the way that not maybe all of you but some of you are working. ”

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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...

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  • 25 comments on “Vettel expected to be quicker after Ferrari let him past Leclerc”

    1. Ferrari swapped their drivers in the first stunt

      Fair assessment; Ferrari looks more like a circus attraction ;)

    2. Seb: I won’t say anything. You fake news are going to spin my words anyway.

      1. @ruliemaulana Better they spin his words again than he spins his car again.

    3. GtisBetter (@)
      14th April 2019, 10:42

      I find that almost always the guy behind his teammate says he is faster until he is in front and the other guy says he is faster.

      1. I think that if you stay a few laps behind your team mate in the DRS range, it is fair game for any team to switch. If the same thing happens the other way around, it would be fair game to switch them back. My 5 cents.

        1. But I think Ferrari could play the switching game all race long today. I think the decision to change the strategies was an easy way out for them. They need to try something to race Mercedes but low and behold, it helped with arguing drivers all race long.
          Ferrari have a real problem on their plate this year with these drivers. We could be seeing this situation for many races to come if neither of them takes a decent lead over the other

    4. 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.

      It’s easy for fans/media people to look at it & say they shouldn’t have done it. But if they believe that Vettel is faster at that point (And it certainly seemed like he was) & could have a chance of getting closer to or at least putting the Mercedes under a bit of pressure 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. GtisBetter (@)
        14th April 2019, 11:15

        I don’t think anyone could conclude that Vettel was faster from the facts. I looked at sector and lap times and with even with DRS he couldn’t make much of a difference. Of course he told he was faster, but as soon as he passed it was obvious he wasn’t and Leclerc said he was being held up. It was Ferrari panic mode.

        1. With the difference that Leclerc did not stay in the DRS range for as many laps and then had to let go. They were closly matched, to be fair, but overall, Vettel had more pace than Leclerc in the race, so it was pretty fair, @passingisoverrated. As soon as Charles said he was been held up, he dropped out of the DRS range.

          1. GtisBetter (@)
            14th April 2019, 12:01

            I’m curious at the lap time chart which will be posted shortly! though to be fair, the thing that hurt Leclerc was the late pit call, which cost him a fourth place. I think even if he was allowed to stay in front, he would have had let Seb through later anyway.

          2. Leclerc after got the team orders and let Vettel pass, in many laps he DIDN’T opened the DRS while if he was 0,8-0,9 behind in the detection zone. Watch more closely next time.

        2. @passingisoverrated When your about 1 second behind another car for as many laps as Seb was behind Leclerc it’s usually a good indicator that you could go faster as your well within the turbulant air at that distance which will be costing you lap time.

          When Seb got by he did start to pull away & Leclerc fell outside of DRS range (Seb had been consistently within DRS distance of Leclerc while behind). Had Seb not locked up & ran wide a few times (Which damaged his tyres) he may well have been able to pull away a bit further.

          1. GtisBetter (@)
            14th April 2019, 14:24

            Not really. Sitting outside DRS is better for tyres. People sit there, cause the know they are not fast enough for a DRS pass and don’t want to destroy their tyres.

            When you are faster on this track you have plenty of DRS straights to overtake. The fact that Seb pretty much blocked his wheel after overtake tells me he was pushing hard to justify the switch. He says here that he was let by, because he “thought” he was faster. But every driver thinks that.

    5. This is why team orders imposed all the time is a bad idea. Occasionally I can see the need, but every race so far this year?

      1. Quite the opposite IMO, @franton, I think there should be more team orders.
        F1 is a team sport, and we should celebrate the teams more than just the drivers. I’d rather see the top 3 teams on the podium with the fastest driver on the side step.

        1. F1 is a RACING sport first, ant team sport afterwards. It is R-A-C-I-N-G, not a friendly chat. That includes teamates also. Otherwise they can drive buses as long as i care.

        2. I would respectfully disagree @coldfly based on the fact I want to see the drivers actually racing each other. If Vettel has to get past, let him make his way past. Gone are the days of blockers like Rene Arnoux and actually having to work to get past them …

    6. Vettel looked faster but when he got passed Leclerc he started to lock up a lot instead of pull a gap.

      Maybe he was only quicker because of DRS and a huge slipstream on the straight. A little like RIC last year in Baku.

      1. could be, but after a few laps and even with the mistakes from Seb, Charles didnt really pressure him, or wasn’t able to. And in the second stint, Seb was generally faster.

    7. Ferrari 3 for 3 for giving Vettel the benefit of team orders, wonder if it’ll still be 100% at the end of the season

    8. I think both Ferrari drivers had similar pace. It was DRS which was keeping Vet close to Lec and similarly when Lec was ordered to let Vet pass, Lec was able to stay close due to DRS. Definitely Lec lost out to Vet and then Max due to team orders.
      Ferrari used Lec like they used Kimi before him, to block Bot for their number 1 driver, Vet.

      1. No wrong. In many laps he didn’t opened the DRS intentionally in order NOT to close the gap because of team orders.
        The team NEVER asked Leclerc to push once he was behind, only once after the pitstop. They do not care for both their drivers, they care just for the “pet” Vettel. And i am telling you man, i am a Ferrari fan.

    9. I think the biggest mistake Ferrari made, is that they didn’t realize soon enough (maybe before switching, but certainly soon after when Vettel’s pace disappointed, with lockups) their race was with Verstappen, not with the Mercedes’.

      1. I don’t see that as a mistake, I don’t think ferrari aims to fight for 2nd best team, they want to beat mercedes, I don’t really think they will mind having lost a 4th for 5th, it’s nowhere near the goal.

    10. How dare you not beg for forgiveness from the British media?

    Comments are closed.