Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Singapore, 2019

Leclerc wants explanation from Ferrari over strategy after lost victory chance

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says he wants Ferrari to explain why their strategy resulted in his team mate Sebastian Vettel taking victory from him in Singapore.

Vettel was the first of the two Ferrari drivers to pit which gave him the advantage of being first to run on fresher tyres. That meant when Leclerc pitted he came out behind his team mate.

Teams ordinarily give their leading driver the preference on strategy. Leclerc says he wants to know why this wasn’t the case in Singapore.

“I still need some explanations just to understand fully why this decision was taken,” he said. “Of course it’s always frustrating in the car because you only see your situation and then you don’t see everything else.”

Leclerc said the team did not discuss the possibility of giving Vettel the first pit stop in their strategy meeting before the race.

“No we didn’t speak about that plan,” he said. “So I think this will be one of the discussions to try and understand why we didn’t speak about that situation before.

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“But it is impossible to go through all the possibilities in a race. All of them are unique.”

During the race Leclerc made several remarks about the team’s strategy on the radio, which he said was “not fair”. However Leclerc said he didn’t ask Ferrari to tell Vettel to let him past, as they did in similar circumstances in Hungary three races ago.

“That wasn’t discussed on the radio,” said Leclerc. “I just waited for the decision of the team whether they thought it was the thing to do or not.

“But it didn’t happen. I didn’t expect anything I just focussed on the job I had to do and then I’m waiting for them to say anything if they have to say anything.”

Leclerc believes there was little more he could have done under the circumstances to win the race, but said he will keep a closer eye on the team’s strategy in future.

“I don’t think I could have done much things better or differently,” he said. “The only thing is probably I will ask a bit more about the strategy around me and who is pitting and who is not because I was not aware so I don’t know if I should have pushed a bit earlier during my first stint. We have plenty of data anyway and I will analyse it.”

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Dieter Rencken
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79 comments on “Leclerc wants explanation from Ferrari over strategy after lost victory chance”

  1. Leclerc Boohoo from Ferrari over boohoo boo hoo hoo bo hoo.

    1. It’s his agent Nick Todt who is pumping him up with ego and goading him on.

    2. @geekracer2000 Seb won a race the only way he seem to be able to these days… Being at the front controlling pace without having to overtake other top drivers. But that’s good, maybe Seb will get out of this pathetic 2.5 year slump in form. Maybe, just maybe, we might actually see an intra-team battle at Ferrari for the first time in history. I’m sure the team will do everything in their power to prevent equal treatment, but who knows.

      1. I admit I am not the biggest VET fan, but victories like that make me lose respect for him and for ferrari.

        1. What about Lewis and Mercedes? You have a lot of respect it seems.

          1. +1.

            BOT is a no.2 every race and nobody gives a big damn about it.

        2. Lol. The two posters above should probably watch something more their speed – like basket-weaving or the like. Had Ferrari not made the call, it would’ve been 1-3 instead of 1-2. Get over it.

          1. @sjzelli So a racing driver who has been consistently faster than his team mate, shouldn’t ask his own team why they favor another driver over him and just let it go. I’m pretty sure if the roles were reversed vettel would be crying on the radio and screaming into a pillow. HONESTLY WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE

          2. Hehehe here we go. Sara has crawled out from under her rock just st thr right time. Must just be coincidence Vettel FINALLY won a race.

          3. @sjzelli lmao all the vettel trolls squinting because they get to see daylight for the first time in a year, too funny. hahaaha

          4. Aww you two are cute. If you can form sentences (somewhat), I assume you can read? I was referring to Ferrari strategy and said nothing about SV. Nice try tho

      2. So you have no problem with Mercedes telling Bottas to slow down so that the does not get ahead of Hamilton? Astounding.

    3. a never trust VETTEL we do not know what going on behind the scene anywhere all fixed in advance

    4. “Vettel wants explanation from Ferrari over strategy after Leclerc shafts him in qualifying.”

      Are they even, yet?

  2. It’s not particularly hard. The team’s job is to maximise the result of the team as a whole. For that, it was the main priority to undercut Hamilton, which is why Vettel was called in first given as Leclerc looked on top of things when it came to defending against Lewis. I don’t think the team had any further desire than to just see Ferrari in 1-2 and just didn’t believe/expect that Vettel would end up undercutting Leclerc as well. Nothing to do but tip the cap to Vettel’s superior outlap.

    However, I don’t blame Charles for being upset either. He wanted to win, which is his job after all, and if he doesn’t have the entire context things may seem somewhat awry to him. I like that he has chosen to see the lesson that getting more knowledgeable about the race situation is extremely valuable. Media writers will wring this for headlines, but I don’t see the mood at Ferrari particularly souring over it long- or even middle-term.

    1. @klon Couldn’t agree more. Both team and drivers’ actions were completely understandable. Reminds me of Monaco 2017 when Vettel pulled one over on Raikkonen with a surprise overcut—but I don’t blame Leclerc one bit for feeling hard done by.

      1. It depends. If they checked in with Leclerc to ask him what he wanted and he wanted to stay out, which makes sense, cause he was controlling the race, they can do whatever they want with Vettel. While driver nr1 gets first choice, they don’t have to wait till he comes in. Of course I don’t know if they asked him. Sounds like not, if we look at his reaction.

        But with all the bad results of Ferrari lately, they needed max result. I am with you that both sides have a point.

    2. @klon The thing that was a bit underhand, which I think Leclerc has the right to be upset about is that they didn’t tell him Vettel had pitted. So he didn’t know he needed to push to ensure he came out ahead. I don’t know if this was intentional from Ferrari but it might have been. It would make sense to undercut with Vettel while Leclerc maintains a slow pace at the front, holding up Hamilton.

      Normal practice would be to announce that a rival had pitted, so that you know that it’s “Hammertime” and you push hard on your inlap. Maybe Leclerc pushed on his inlap anyway, but if not then this could have cost him the race.

    3. Been supporting Ferrari’s number 1 driver since 1999. Who that might be right now, well…

      Was frustrated when I saw Charles emerging from the pits behind Sebastian. I had a bad feeling LH would have won it on the overcut, but well…

      Been reading Binotto’s explanation and would conclude that Charles can reluctantly accept the result:

      1. Main purpose of Vettel coming in early was to undercut / distract LH.
      2. No one from Ferrari or Mercedes expected the undercut to have worked out so well for Vettel!
      3. Swapping positions – the team would have ordered it but for the subsequent safety car periods that led to the narrowing of the gap to Mercedes and RB. Don’t think Spielberg 2002 or Indianapolis 2002 or Hungaroring 2017 was on the cards?

  3. Explanation: Monza qualifying. Ferrari as a team clearly felt Leclerc had stuffed Vettel there, hence the ‘forgiven’ message. But he seems to have taken that a little too literally. Today was redressing the balance, allowing Vettel the win. Actually from a team perspective it makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure if Leclerc gets this or not, in some ways it’s good (for his and Ferrari’s prospects) that he doesn’t. At least Seb is very clearly happy.

    1. +1. LEC seems a bit… immature socially – or is it just arrogance?

      1. He is a Prima Donna and as expected not man enough to accept whats dished out to him.

        1. Who, Vettel, or LeClerc?

          1. Both actually, expected much better from Leclerc compared to Vettel guess he is not much different afterall.

      2. I think he is just a hot-head and will calm down and accepted the results a few hours after the race.

    2. Fully agree. Let’s Leclerc first explains about the Monza qualifying and then get the answer from the team.
      Moreover Leclerc wasn’t faster Vettel during the race.

    3. @david-br
      Ferrari may well have been teaching him a lesson. Maybe it is helpful, I think probably not.
      It has a cost, however. Ferrari vhas been the fastest car everywhere since Spa. If they are the best car from now until Abu Dhabi they could really regret not giving Leclerc 100% of the available points, including deliberate driver swaps.
      Leclerc should also understand the race was never really his. If they handed pitted Vettel Hamilton would have undercut him. It was marginal with his teammate, he needed to have pulled a bigger gap to own that race.

  4. I blame Leclerc himself for being so slow on the softs, up to and including his 1’49” in-lap. Vettel, on the other hand, made the most of the single lap he had to undercut the top two drivers.

    1. That’s a world champion trait

      1. Absolutely agree

  5. Really liked Leclerc and hoped he would do great this year. And he has. But he’s starting to become difficult to like. Waaaay too much whining and sense of entitlement.

    1. This. This is how I feel too.

    2. I agree. All the way to the point I am actually wanting Vettel to win….. I never want Vettel to win…… :P

  6. I figured that pitting Vettel was to guard against Hamilton and to try and keep Leclerc out of traffic? Didn’t look like Vettel would be able to undercut him but he did – sometimes stuff like that happens.

    Really not sure why Leclerc’s making such a fuss over it? What happened to winning as a team? I like the guy and he’s clearly fast but he’s really starting to whinge a lot when things don’t go all his way.

    1. Year, Leclerc is a cry baby

  7. It doesn’t really matter which Ferrari driver won, though, it’s better for the team that it was Vettel as he needed the boost. #1 driver means nothing if you ain’t in a position to win the championship.

  8. Actually it seems Ferrari may just have reacted to Red Bull call to pit Verstappen and seconds after they told Vettel to box at the very last minute to cover a possible undercut, who knows?

    1. @spoutnik
      Both tried ( and succeeded) in a undercut on Lewis. As a side effect LEC lost position but unintentionally.
      The fake call for Lewis triggered LEC to come in to avoid a undercut by Lewis. Merc had a bad strategy in hindsight.

      1. Looks so indeed! A bit unusual from their part.

  9. Tbh I admire his calm. In his place I would probably raise hell, because it’s far from the first time the team has favoured Vettel and that should be over now. And then I’d probably regret it afterwards. So kudos to this 21 yo for being more mature than me (who is over twice has age).

    1. Actually, I really felt bad for Leclerc but I think he could have been a little bit happier for the team. He seems like a partypooper on the podium. We all know he deserved to win the race but he’s done so well this season against a 4 time world champion. He just needs to show a little bit of humility and celebrate the resurgence of the team. It’s not like this is his 1st pole and 1st win. He has 5 poles and deserves many victories this season. Dream season for him and Ferrari and a bad season for Seb who deserves a little bit of a break.

      1. Look at Kimi on Monaco 17 podium

        1. Can’t compare Leclerc not getting his 3rd victory in a row to Raikonnen not winning at Monaco in his 4th season at Ferrari.

          And Kimi looked almost as happy at the podium as when he wins :-) The kid is beating a 4 time World Champion in his 1st year at Ferrari and upset that he hasn’t won it all. Everyone knows that Leclerc should have won yesterday’s race – he’s the only one who doesn’t seem to think so. It gave a chance for Vettel to shine a little bit and for Ferrari to score a 1-2. He should have been celebrating and happy for everyone there especially himself – he was flawless this weekend.

    2. I agree. LeClerc has been screwed several times this year by Red so he thinks it’s intentional and why wouldn’t he?
      He has a lot of pundits here who are afraid he is as good as he has been and will be the next champion so they try to find fault wherever possible as is the case here. Silly.
      I think he is doing fine considering all the points Red has cost him do their strategy cock ups and flat out partiality towards Vettel.

    3. The team favoured Vettel, how? did they cause Charles to drive too slowly? Charles will be world champion one day, but no world champion is going to win every race.

  10. I guess the idea of the struggling teammate building some confidence doesn’t mean a thing to a driver who couldn’t care less about the teams position so long as he gets the maximum points. I’m already starting to see a bit of selfishness in Leclerc. I do realize that every driver has this quality, however, Neither will beat Lewis to the WDC so why not focus on staying ahead of the RedBull team .?

    1. The great ones are all selfish, ALO, HAM, VER and yes even VET. Weak argument.

      1. Schumi as well, Senna

  11. Today Vettel rightly won the race. Sometimes a little chance or better timing is part of the game. It is better for Charles to shut up and continue to drive, making nonsense complains doesn’t make him faster.

  12. If I read it correctly, the undercut worked because after pitting, Vettel slotted at the end of a 10(?)-second gap and could speed up. If they pitted Leclerc at that time, he would appear much closer to the beginning in this gap, with less room to use, giving Hamilton chance to overcut him. And if they did not pit Vettel at all, then the next driver who could slot into that gap as it kept moving forward would be Hamilton.
    But I may be wrong.

    1. You’re right, except the gap was moving the other way towards Verstappen.

    2. I think you are spot on . Because the front was driving sooo slow (LEC was to blame for this) the whole field was packed behind them (even williams could follow). Leaving no gaps to make a quick out lap. It was really the best strategy (finally they got it right) to get a 1-2 finish.
      If LEC would have been faster to create a gap with the midfield things would have been completely different. So he’s (partly) self to blame for creating this situation..,

  13. Despite going so slowly in the first stint, he seemed to have little left by way of tyres when he needed to push. So whilst I understand his frustration at not coming in on that lap instead of Vettel, he could also have avoided the situation by doing a better job himself in the lead up to that incident.

    He’s still got a lot to learn. In a few years, in the same situation, I think he’d manage the tyres better (in the same way all drivers tend to do as they gain more experience), have better pace when he needed it and come out ahead instead of behind.

  14. Welcome to Ferrari Leclerc…

  15. This is all out war. There will only be one winner once this is done at Ferrari.

    Mouth watering prospect.

    Yesterday I thought long and hard about what happened after quali. Seb did an amazing first Q3 lap. It was brilliant literary to the wall, taking everything out of that car almost dancing. I was sure, nobody is gonna beat that, and nobody did. Seb was way faster than anyone else. I figured oh my Seb is back.

    Then second lap, Leclerc went in and did this 3 times nearly hitting the wall to get pole. DANG I thought, he has done it again.

    It is that close between them, Leclerc can just get to the edge and slightly over it more often and return back to the safe side of the edge, just amazing.

    Then the race started, booring as hell nothing going on until the pitstops, and after pitstops nothing could be done 8 seconds behind quali time. They were just covering their competition and cruising to a win. No dancing no drama.

    Or was it? Leclerc could do nothing to pass Seb. As much as Seb will enjoy this victory he’ll take little confidence knowing Leclerc got another pole. When going gets tough, Leclerc is more toggether and gets it done.

    Seb was brilliant upfront offcorse, but Leclerc was getting the job done before pitstops aswell. Hard to consider him not to be disappointed? And how happy can Vettel be, knowing he got the win through strategy mostly?

    1. As much as Seb will enjoy this victory he’ll take little confidence knowing Leclerc got another pole.

      Pole is nice for stats, Winning is so much better.

      1. Especially if you earned it.

    2. Perfectly stated!

    3. COTD Material

  16. Ferrari are not making the right calls this season, Vettel is on his way out, they need to support Leclerc who is their future.

    It’s a longshot but now Ferrari seem to have a car that can win at high and low speed tracks, Leclerc might have a shot at the title and even more so without the team favouring Vettel, how many points have these decisions cost him?

    1. @davidjwest
      If it wasn’t for the team orders favouring Sebastian in the first four / five races of the year, we would have Leclerc trailing Bottas by less than 10 points.

      Such a shame. Ferrari was backing the wrong horse since Race 1. I thought they would have learnt their lesson after Spa and Monza, but clearly not.

      1. Favour VET how? Tell him to move aside and let LEC ahead just because LEC seems faster in a certain stint, like in Australia? So, what you’re implying is to turn a 32 years old VET into a no.2, yet you were against turning a 36 years old RAI, and in worse shape than VET, into a no.2. Come on, man! Then, where’s the equal treatment many of you claim? If LEC is faster, then he should overtake VET. LEC asked for favouritism from race1.

    2. They had a 1-2 finish. How can they not have made the right call?? (It could be that they were lucky by following VES in the undercut)

  17. It seems like Leclerc is really upset because he made a mistake by not keeping track of where everyone is and was. He’s still learning, I saw a recent Peter Windsor vlog where he recalled that Leclerc told him he didn’t know when he was locking up his front tyres until he could see the smoke. Strange. In any case, kudos to the experienced Vettel who took advantage of the situation & won a race in the same way that he has won several. Give an F1 driver a millimeter & they’ll take a mile. or, something like that. Several commentors above also mentioned Leclerc’s manager Todt, who himself may be a bit sensitive from recalling that every driver on the grid endlessley mugged Massa to his left because his peripheral vision was weakened after the accident. And, I think his team mate Alonso was the first to do so. If I recall correctly, it was on the entry! into pitlane in Shanghai as well. Harsh, but these guys are so evenly matched, any advantage must be capitilized upon. Although, Vettel may have also unwittingly revealed one of Leclerc’s weaknesses.

  18. Does anyone have Leclerc’s lap times from the few laps before he pitted as I was watching Hamilton’s OnBoard feed on Sky around that time & Hamilton seemed to gain a lot of time on Charles on his in-lap.

    If there plan was to pit Vettel first to undercut Hamilton but come out just behind Charles as I believe it was then if Charles had a slower than anticipated in-lap that would have messed up there calculations & resulted in Vettel ending up just ahead.

    1. It’s almost like the strategy was to delay Hamilton and then spring the undercut on him to win from third. It’s like Leclerc slowed so much it made Mercedes dream of an overcut. A nice trap.

    2. Beginning from lap 17: LEC 1’37”825, 1’39”011, 1’39”610, and then his in-lap. HAM 1’37”428, 1’38”573, 1’39”348, 1’38”943. Meanwhile, VET 1’38”309, 1’38”716, in-lap, 1’35”453. LEC did slightly pick up the pace around this time but HAM more than matched his laptimes, and then LEC started to deteriorate fast towards the end of the stint.

    3. Not a bad result, 1-2 for the team, strategy destroyed Hamilton’s podium chances. It worked so well even Max got ahead.

      Ferrari sacrificed the queen a bit for the overall victory. Hardly a sacrifice when they won 1-2, but it could easily have been 1-3 with poorer execution.

      1. but it could easily have been 1-3 with poorer execution

        Or lose the win to HAM…

  19. I think the theory of winning this race is to tootle around until the window opened, and then do a millennium falcon for a lap or two, then pit. That way you avoid an undercut on your first warp speed lap and if the guy behind did stop you pit immediately and race him to pit exit. Except Leclerc had no extra burst of pace in hand, and he ended up costing himself and Hamilton, whom he was holding up. For Hamilton knowing Leclerc was not speeding up they should have pit at the first opportunity. But hindsight is wonderful.

  20. Spoken like a true Hamilton fan who is starting to get concerned LeClerc will dethrone his hero.

  21. This guy is gonna go far. He is not satisfied. He didn’t like that at all.
    i believe some other would just say that these things happens, talk the team’s talk and forget about it, even more being his first year with the team, but not him.

    He is showing race in, race out that he is capable and the only reason Vettel is still necessary is his experience.

    He is winning races and poles because he is by far the hungriest out there, not even Verstappen is so desperate to show people how good he is as Leclerc, and not even a 4 times world champion with still preferential treatment will get in his way.

    1. Preferential treatment is out the window. There are many desperate drivers, Leclerc is just crazy obsesed, driving that car every race like it’s the title decider. And it is in a way, if he outshines Vettel that gives him a clear equal if not #1 status for next year.

      Italian media are declaring him the next Schumacher. Vettel will need to raise his game to a new level if he is to stop this upset.

  22. I like Leclerc, and think he’s world champion material, but now isn’t the time to go around acting like this. Ferrari are out of the constructor’s championship, and both he and Vettel are out of the driver’s championship. It just so happened that today the strategy calls went in Vettel’s favor. It didn’t at all seem like Ferrari were giving him the #2 driver treatment either. From what I remember, Vettel was brought in to undercut and cover off Hamilton. Then LEC’s tires just fell off a cliff and he lost a lot of time at the end of his stint. Nothing about the move made me think Ferrari were intentionally messing up his race to give VET the best chance to win. If anything, they made a quick decision to alter VET’s strategy to see if it will work (which it did), while keeping LEC on plan A. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    I really felt bad for him early in the season when he was (figuratively) beating himself up over every single mistake he made. But these last few raced have really left a bad taste in my mouth. That qualifying incident in Monza was ridiculous, and now this? Ferrari think this guy is their future champion! Having such a sour attitude about a decision that didn’t go your way is only going to make your bosses doubt your professionalism.

    1. Often times Vettel was able to maintain his tires better in the races. This was just another case.

      As for being a bad looser, Hamilton famously says that there are no good loosers, loosing is bad. He’d hate to be a good looser. So this is just your regular racing driver. Especially now that he had 2 wins, he almost feels entitled to a new win.

      It is to be expected, Bottas is a good looser for example, so was Gasly,…

      Leclerc was furious also because despite nearly crashing 3 times in Q3 pole lap, giving it everything and leading the race comfortably, he still lost it due to strategy error and lack of pace on used tires.

    2. I agree about the fact that the bosses and the team will not react kindly to Leclerc’s antics. Sure, he lost a well deserved win yesterday BUT this was a day for everyone at the Scuderia to celebrate. Even Newey was surprised that the Ferraris were so competitive at Singapore.

      His emotions may have gotten the worse of him on the podium. He just needs to explain to the team how happy he’s to be there. This a dream year for Leclerc – he’s winning many races, scored a boatload of podiums, beating a 4 time world champion. He’s a bit petulant to complain.

  23. I wonder if it is also a sign that Ferrari have given up on the driver championship.
    There are six races left now, I would say statistically if Ferrari have the best car and can 1-2 the rest of the season leaving Hamilton in third at each race, they can gain just 10 points per race which at 60pts gain, isn’t enough for either VET or LEC to wind the championship.
    If they thought they could overhaul the points difference, they would have to have swapped VET and LEC in Singapore.

    1. Hamilton won’t be 3rd every race if Ferrari can 1-2 them all, Red Bull will be at Mercedes level in USA and Mexico at the minimum.

      ONE DNF for Hamilton and it’s game on.

      Hamilton hasn’t had a DNF this season so far and he’s never had a whole season without a DNF before……….

      Ferrari may regret supporting the wrong driver again.

  24. Leclerc: What was that about?
    Ferrari: This is out team. You’re just an employee.

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