Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Vettel: All the talk about team orders isn’t helping

2019 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says the scrutiny of Ferrari’s team tactics is making it harder for the team to be “reactive”.

Ferrari swapped the running order of its drivers twice during the Spanish Grand Prix as its cars finished fourth and fifth in the race. Vettel let Charles Leclerc pass him early in the race and Leclerc was told to allow Vettel past later on.

Despite the time lost switching positions, Vettel believes the team “more or less maximised the points” available to them.

“I think I had a shot at the podium but obviously in turn one with the flat spot in the first stint compromised by own race. But I wanted to try something to mix things up. I knew that I won’t win the race in turn one but at least I thought we can mix things up with Mercedes and then have a bit more of a fight with everybody.”

Vettel caught Leclerc after the pair had made their first pit stops and urged the team to switch their cars for the second time in the race.

“Charles was on a different strategy and with the Safety Car obviously his strategy was thrown to bits. But I think we tried to work together as much as we can but obviously every time we try to do something there’s a lot of talk afterwards which maybe doesn’t help to be a bit more reactive on the fly,” he said.

Mercedes scored their fifth one-two in as many races while Vettel slipped to fourth in the points behind Max Verstappen, and 46 points adrift of Lewis Hamilton. However he said he is not dwelling on the points situation.

“I think at this point there is for nobody any point looking at the championship so early, you need to go race by race. We will see. Obviously a disappointing weekend for us. We were hoping to be a lot faster. Now we find ourselves not so fast. But I think we can only come back to where we are now.”

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Ferrari team radio

Vettel:Are we on different strategies?
To Vettel:Yep.
Vettel:Well what are we doing then?
To Vettel:How fast can you go?
Vettel:Faster than I’m currently going.
To LeclercLet Sebastian by.

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Dieter Rencken
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32 comments on “Vettel: All the talk about team orders isn’t helping”

  1. I feel for Ferrari, they are up against it all the time, whatever they do, it seems. They didnt help themswlves announcing Vettel as number one so early, but still. I also wonder if the pre season testing results were a true reflection of things, in retrospect. But hey, we still have some low downforce, power trucks coming…

  2. To be honest ferrari really idiot in strategy. No well plan strategy.

  3. Normally, I’d say he’s complaining but he’s actually got a good point. The fact that Ferrari discusses their team order during a race is what’s costing them. Leaving both Vettel and Leclerc to slow each other down while the team are having discussions are what helped Max disappear into the mist ahead. Today was probably the poorest strategy from Ferrari

  4. Ferrari let their strategy influenced largely bu reb bull. When it was clear Ver had to make another stop they should have managed the hard tire better. Now lec asked to much from them. Resulted in a needed second stop. Vet should used the red tire after the SC.
    So lost again a podium.

    1. I don’t think you’re reading that correctly. Leclerc didn’t pit because his tyres were shot, he pitted because everyone else was going to. Sure he could have not pitted and kept track position but directly behind him would’ve been Vettel, Verstappen and Gasly on (almost) new and faster mediums (or, in case of Gasly, softs). He would have been a sitting duck for at least these three.

  5. It’s because they don’t react fast enough in those situations that they currently get the stick.

    But he also said it himself:

    I think at this point there is for nobody any point looking at the championship so early, you need to go race by race

    that’s why people were unhappy with them favouring one driver so early on

    1. Right they let the faster driver ruin their tires for 15 minutes before they issue team orders.

      Their decision process is soooo slow.

      1. They did this wrong twice. First they should have left LeClerc ahead right away.

        Second Vettel was not let by right away either. It was painfully obvious.

        But in reallity Ferrari are not that incompetent, they are just slow. Slow on the track, slow on strategy. I am sure their strategists would be looking really good if their car was 1s faster.

  6. With the ever-widening gap in pace to Mercedes, Ferrari aren’t in a position to be “reactive”.

    They almost seem so baffled by Mercedes’ gains that they just freeze mid-race rather than focusing on optimal damage limitation.

    People complain about Mercedes dominance but Ferrari are the ones massively letting everyone down. And fair play to Max for taking full advantage.

    1. COTD!

  7. I think the main problem is that they seem to have a set idea of how they want to race, and then when the situation is different to what they want/expect/hope, they are slow to react and act decisively.

    Here, after how the cards fell at the end of the 1st lap, they clearly had to let Leclerc go past (and why didn’t Vettel just decide himself to do that, for the team) in the 1st stint, but bc. Vettel was ahead, that wasn’t on the cards very quickly. And that had it’s impact on when the situation was reversed, with Leclerc not eager to let his teammate by, because he didn’t trust the teams intentions (clear and logical, in my opinion). I think that had everything worked out for them after that, they might have had a chance at p3 (Leclerc if that switch had happened early enough and he’d have been able to hang w. Verstappen, otherwise possibly Vettel after a swift 2nd switch), but that is by no means certain.

    To me, it seemed as if Ferrari hadn’t internalised, like RBR clearly had, who their fight in this race was going to be with, and so they once again, and this time with both cars, lost to Verstappen.

    With team orders if you are going for TO, get on with it and don’t look back before the end of the race, or you know, just don’t go there, because you are losing both cars time by dithering.

    But maybe the more general problem (compare to Red Bull’s race MO, for example) is that they seem uncertain, and therefore muddle their chances if they could get them, which them makes them only waver more the next time.

    In that sense, what Vettel says is true, but the real problem is likely not ‘you guys asking that’ but ‘we are strongly influenced by what the press thinks and says’ (maybe because it reflects an internal debate?), ie. they do still remain internally uncertain.

    1. but the real problem is likely not ‘you guys asking that’ but ‘we are strongly influenced by what the press thinks and says’ (maybe because it reflects an internal debate?), ie. they do still remain internally uncertain.

      @bosyber – indeed, our comments reflect this same point.

  8. Scrutiny of team tactics? By whom? The press? The fans? Why TF would Ferrari’s strategists even be influenced by or concerned with what is written in articles and comments? Just shut the world out, and get on with it. Public opinions are not a variable to factor into race strategy.

    If Binotto’s not insulating his strategists from the outside world’s questions, second-guessing, and pressures, then he’s failing as a leader.

    1. Exactly @philipgb, the strategy team’s only focus should be on getting the best race result possible and nothing else, and certainly not what the press/fans will say about every decision

    2. @phylyp, the thing is, it is a hard thing to insulate the team when the use of team orders is something that has cast a long shadow over Ferrari – even now, we have people bringing up, for example, the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix as something to beat the team with, even though it is 17 years since that race took place.

      Even though you might want to be hard headed and to shut it out, that steady drumbeat of criticism from the press over the use of team orders is something that I can imagine will still lodge itself in the back of the mind of a number of members of the team. They will be hauled over the coals whatever they do, and even though I imagine that Binotto is trying to shield those strategists, the team is dealing with decades of criticism and baggage over the use of team orders that other teams, when they do use team orders, do not have to deal with.

    3. @phylyp Public opinion is a factor in race strategy if losing the public’s favour is likely to result in premature pressure to change lineup. This is a new team in several key elements and I don’t think they’re entirely confident of their job security yet, partly because of Ferrari’s formidable reputation – and also partly because of its propensity to throw out people perceived to be failing more rapidly and with less warning than other teams. It’s easier to say “ignore the public, let’s do it our way” if, like the 2002 Austrian GP situation, most of the people involved have been working together at the Scuderis for 6 years first and “tested” the notion with a similar swap (for 3rd) on the last lap of the previous year’s Austrian Grand Prix.

      The trouble is that if they are not careful, the strategists will find public favour is lost regardless. Which is why most teams do not bother calculating for this in race strategy, rather they calculate for it in PR.

      1. @alianora-la-canta – you’re right, one shouldn’t forget the Tifosi pressure :)

        That said, after bungling year after year, one wonders whether Ferrari should just say “eff it, ignore the Tifosi and lets do our thing and get it right”.

        1. @phylyp I believe that notion has some merit, shall we say…

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    12th May 2019, 18:09

    Ferrari’s problem is that they seem to have a lengthy committee meeting every time they have a call to make. They’ve established early on in the season that team orders will be happening at Ferrari this year, and given the closeness of their drivers and apparent (lack of) competitiveness of their car, they’ll probably need to use them quite frequently… which means they need to start issuing them at the point where it makes sense to do so.

    Instead – today, for example – they just seem to sit on their hands, scratch their heads, make a cup of tea, confer between half a dozen people, then invariably make the call that they were always going to make… by which time it’s five laps too late.

    1. @neilosjames Yup. It’s like we’re all on to Ferrari’s next problem in the race while they’re still deciding how to solve the first. That slow.

    2. @neilosjames I had the same feeling. That when things happen on track, they have to go through 3 or 4 committees before a decision can be made. I can understand when it’s not obvious what the change should be, but today it was pretty straightforward and it still took what seemed liked hours for a decision to be made. My guess is that whoever is responsible for making the strategy change decisions is so afraid of getting it wrong that they can’t react in time to get it right.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        12th May 2019, 20:11

        This reminds me of Martin Brundle’s classic quote at the 1999 European GP; “Look they’re having a committee meeting about it, STICK IT ON AND SEND HIM OUT!!”

    3. @neilosjames I am reminded of a quote in God Emperor of Dune:

      “The difference between a good administrator and a bad one is about five heartbeats. Good administrators make immediate choices…”

      It’s fixable, but it needs fixing as soon as practicable.

  10. Going back to first principals; the simple problem is they’re not quick enough. It does not matter what they do with race strategy, they will still still not catch Mercedes at a track like Catalunya. The speed simply is not there.

    Vettel isn’t wrong, Ferrari need to close the gap.

  11. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    12th May 2019, 18:39

    They managed to screw both of their races today. First, by having Leclerc stay behind Vettel for 5 laps. Second, by having Vettel stay behind for another 5 laps.

    Vettel wants to win with Ferrari like Michael, and I respect that. It is his dream and I think most drivers want to win one with the Tifosi. However, I think he needs to start thinking a move to another team, if he wants to get another title. He is still young, only 32 has another 7 years in him.

    1. That the worst part of Ferrari decisions: ruining both drivers races.
      For many reasons, VET performance was not on par with LEC.
      If VET were not the clear #1 for the team and Ferrari were not a team which take #1 driver status so seriously, it would be entirely sensible to allow LEC the clearest track they can, even making VET let him pass.
      This would mean that the team would have more points as a constructor and LEC as a driver – the undesired consequence would be that VET would have probably 10-20 points less than LEC, not counting the lost win in BAH.

  12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    12th May 2019, 18:53

    Well, Mercedes is almost 100 points ahead of Ferrari (96 to be exact) and we’re just 5 races into the season.

    Even worse, Mercedes has more points than Ferrari and Red Bull combined… and we’re just 5 races into the season.

    A Red Bull driver has scored points than either Ferrari driver… with a Honda engine!

    If Red Bull still had Daniel Ricciardo instead of Gasly, it’s possible that Red Bull would have been ahead of Ferrari in the WCC.

    The only top team whose drivers are both firing on all cylinders are the Mercedes duo.

    I don’t know what to say but Ferrari might want to bring back Arrivabene in some capacity like Helmut Marko until things get settled. If you look at successful F1 teams, there are usually 2 folks – Brawn/Todt, Horner/Marko, Wolff/Lauda. It’s obvious that Ferrari needs someone to steer them through the rough seas.

    1. Yes, I didn’t agree with them firing arrivabene, was one of the few who didn’t criticise him.

  13. Barry Wilbraham
    12th May 2019, 19:01

    There is nothing wrong with the Ferrari drivers. The problem is with the morale in the team. The old adage is that there needs to be a commitment in the team and across the board! May-be that you have too many experts on the team and don’t allow the freedom which is evident in your team. The divers think positive but the back-up team are getting in the way. You need a new strategy and leave the drivers to do there work. Sadly it revolves around strategies and too many professionals.

  14. Ferrari need to stop worrying about the headlines and do what is right on the day.

    I can see how dealing with Leclerc is a problem. Fast enough in phases of the race to deserve to run ahead of Vettel, but a shade slower over a whole race distance. You wouldn’t want him in another team’s car, but he doesn’t make it easy to maximise your own result either because you spend too much of the race swapping cars around.

  15. This is just poor leadership. Arrivabeni was not so good or bad, but this clown they have now is simply atrocious. They have let Mercedes get into their collective head like I have never seen before. Somehow they truly believed they were the fastest team coming out of testing even though it looked exactly like the last 3 or 4 pre-season testing sessions. Fire Binotto now. He’s worse than the guy before Arrivabene.

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