Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019

Leclerc-Vettel rivalry could ‘escalate’ like Hamilton-Rosberg did, says Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the rivalry between Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel could escalate in the same way Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg did.

What they say

Wolff was asked whether the competition between the Ferrari pair bore comparison with the relationship between Hamilton and his previous team mate:

Yeah I think always two alphas competing for position has the potential for rivalry and escalation within the team. We’ve been there and I think today as a team we are very strong with a clear philosophy.

On the positives, they keep taking points away from each other. Which is an advantage. But I don’t want to look at the points at that stage it’s about optimising what you have, winning races or doing the best you can and we didn’t do it.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Should Charles Leclerc have handled the Singapore Grand Prix differently on the radio?

Some were saying after the grand prix that Leclerc was whining too much… But from this transcript, I find him to be quite mature and reasonable. I mean, he is not happy and make sure they know it (which is what he has to do), but he didn’t push it and even reassure the team at some point.

In my opinion, either the undercut was really more powerful than expected either Ferrari perfectly played it to get a one-two which is a great result for a team that looked to be spiraling down just four grands prix ago. I do tend to believe the second option is the right one. So not fair to Leclerc, but was the right thing to do for Ferrari.
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  • 42 comments on “Leclerc-Vettel rivalry could ‘escalate’ like Hamilton-Rosberg did, says Wolff”

    1. The kid needs to grow up! He thinks because he won the pole that means he wins the race. Look at how many times Mark Webber got screwed by RB/Markco because they wanted Vettel to win. RB screwed Webber in the 2010 season by giving Vettel parts from Webber’s car and sliding Vettel in front of MW during pits, etc. Merc has done the same thing with crybaby Ham and Rosberg and now Bott as have Ferrari to Kimi with Vettel. This new kid has not paid his dues yet when it comes to these politics.

      1. Let me guess, Wolff actually interested to sign Leclerc to drive for merc in the future.

      2. How do you think he should have reacted to it then? Smile and happily accept that his team cost him the win by giving his teammate, who qualified and was running behind him all race up until the pit stops, the better strategy?

        Some people’s comments on Leclerc’s reaction to being quite obviously shafted out of the win have absolutely mystified me.

        1. Some people’s comments on Leclerc’s reaction to being quite obviously shafted out of the win have absolutely mystified me.

          It’s the same people that claim Vettel won in Canada, that Hamilton “threw a tantrum” by saying he didnt leave me a cars width (in a pretty calm tone) at Monza and that Seb is as good as ever he just needs a stable rear (clue: the problem isn’t the car)

          Pay no attention to them. Let them revel in this moment, they’ve been waiting a long. long. time.

      3. So “the kid needs to grow up” and accept being screwed over because other drivers have been screwed over a lot?

        I don’t think Leclerc was whining at all. But even if he were somehow throwing a tantrum, calling out shenanigans for what they are is a good thing. Swallowing the party line just because it has been the party line for a long time is the weak move.

    2. How must Bottas feel when Wolff says the things he does.

      1. So true! This whole situation is uncomfortable even for me watching from a distance. Wolff almost explicitly says that Ferrari has two alphas but thankfully Mercedes no longer has them… so Bottas is the beta-male?

        This is very similar to what happened with Barrichello, even after many years at Ferrari he would still start each season saying he was fighting for the championship. I understand the allure of having the best car to snatch the odd win and fight for podiums, but at least recognize up front that you’re the number 2 and you’re ok with it, there’s no shame in that if you’re honest. Saying multiple times to the press that you’re equal to your multiple champion team mate and that you’re fighting for the championship while 1) backing off for his benefit and 2) having your team boss almost say you’re the submissive male… that is so bad.

      2. @peartree Indeed. He’s really overdoing it. Wingman, non-alpha, not good enough to take points off no. 1 etc.

        Quite distasteful really, but then we already knew he was like this from the Rosberg era. Not quite as bad as Lauda, but surely influenced by him.

        1. I also think its terrible that when Hamilton is leading they make Bottas drop behind the Ferraris and Max to make Ham look better.

      3. @peartree – Agreed. And it seems any lingering hope of Merc signing a top driver for the second seat for 2021 just vanished.

    3. I find ticktum is very believable in this case. Considering he has put in the effort to not just figure out the age and the living conditions of the person who started the rumor but has also figure out in which room of the house the post was written!

      1. You had me in the first half :)

        1. Haha! Brilliant! Totally had me going there too.

    4. Oh no Toto.
      Vettel is not upclass like Rosberg and neither is Leclerc as non compromising a teammate as Hamilton.
      If it’s a rivalry, it’ll be the one with mutual respect!

    5. I would wait for Sochi to judge Ferrari’s pace. We can’t say that it is representative. Three safety cars most likely saved them there, as their tyres have tended to drop at the end of the stints more severely than the Mercedes or Red Bull.

      1. @krichelle agreed, that pace at the start of the race was comically slow, and Leclerc STILL ran out of tyres didn’t he.

        Ferrari had the faster car at various points throughout 2017 and 2018 too and Mercedes still outclassed them operationally and via Lewis.

        1. Sometimes running the tires outside their optimum temp window ruins them, including from driving too slow and not heating them up enough. I’m not sure slow driving necessarily equals tire conservation with these tires.

    6. It looks like it might be a wet few days in Sochi, clearing up for the race but hopefully some rain for qualifying. Praying for rain to make something interesting happen at this godawful track :/

      1. @Anthony Blears, I never hope for rain during a qualifying-session because it’s the most lap time-relevant session of each GP-weekend.

        1. Agreed, @jerejj. I like a dry qualy to see the pecking order, but wouldn’t mind a wet race to see plans go awry.

    7. Honest question for the staff:

      What good does ignoring rumors do, if you then later on, indirectly reference said rumors, without filling us in on the details? NOW I have to go google the rumor for details….

      It’s ok if you want to post rumors… but why play games? I’ve seen this twice now, in the last month. Both times I’ve ended up at autosport to find out what this talk is all about…

      1. To be fair – the roundup links to an article which is a good read (if you are a fan of Ticktum or not) and contains much more than that rumor. That article it’s self does not link to the rumor either. Don’t see your issue here really.

      2. Agreed, I had no idea those rumours were even a thing but I spent a few minutes looking into them because I saw the roundup piece on it.

        Again, I’m glad to have reconfirmed that the sources I read are all reputable, because I had not heard that rumour at any point.

    8. I share the same views as both Toto and the COTD.

      ”have been made up by some 35-year-old bloke in his mum’s bedroom on social media.”
      – LOL.

    9. What a nice way to say Bottas is a class B driver and will never be in the same league as Hamilton to actually bother him.

    10. Yes this is so true. Not only it could escalate, it already has.

      This is an old story, young Senna trying to upset world champion Prost. Young Rosberg going againts veteran GOAT Schumacher and now this young Leclerc driving like with upsetting speed.

      Vettel currently looks like a class slower than Leclerc, but no doubt the game is on now. Vettel is also fast with new improved car. With some luck we will have a show on our hands.

      It makes every Mercedes victory look boring in comparison. Not that he is not impressive or anything, just not fun to watch.

      1. Vettel has been here once before though, and left the team in response to being battered by the young gun.

        1. Under far different circumstances RB13.

          1. @robbie contractually and motivation wise, sure.

            Performance comparisons are entirely similar.

            1. I reject your summation firstly that SV left RBR because he was ‘battered’ by DR, and secondly that there is anything similar about to happen now.

            2. I didnt imply he was about to leave Ferarri now but he sure is being outperformed in a similar way and journos are giving very similar justification “he needs a stable rear”

    11. We’ve been there and I think today as a team we are very strong with a clear philosophy.
      On the positives, they keep taking points away from each other.

      “Valtteri, please slow down!”
      I’m on record to defend F1 as a team sport and team interests are the highest. I go even as far as having a primary podium with team finishes, and only a minor podium (or another small Pirelli tyre trophy) for the fastest driver.
      But still I dislike Wolff when he makes these comments. Probably because he mostly pretends the drivers can race each other and are equal, and furthermore even in a 1-2 or 4-5 he seems to favour his star driver (and Hamilton is probably the driver who least needs help to beat his teammate.

      1. I watch F1 from the 70~ but i have heard a comment during the race please slow down like last sunday. Is it me i am getting to old?

        1. Yes, most just give the driver a delta to stick to, rather than say slow down. Like Ferrari did to Leclerc Sunday.

          Or maybe the Ferrari was seconds slower than the Williams at that stage of the race?

      2. @coldfly
        he seems to favour his star driver (and Hamilton is probably the driver who least needs help to beat his teammate.

        But if he favoured Bottas Merc would have won nothing the past 4 years…

    12. Surprised at how many long term fans have never heard of ‘backing the pack up’, understand how teams do it, or why?

      But I won’t be surprised when the next team employs this well used tactic and not a word is said about it on here.

    13. When TW had two alphas he was locking up the front row. When he lost an alpha he couldn’t do that anymore, and that coincided with Ferrari getting a bit better, so it became more the norm and necessary for TW to not have VB take points away from LH. VB starts every season as an alpha and then fails to lock up the front row with LH, or at least fails to capitalize on that and hands it to LH, so of course TW is thrilled to see Ferrari split points while LH pretty much sealed up the WDC in the first half of the season anyway.

      1. @robbie personally I fail to see how Ferrari splitting points first and second, or second and first, is much for Mercedes to cheer about.

        1. @david-br Oh I hear you but it’s simply that as far as I’m concerned LH has a lock on the WDC. He’ll continue to haul in some wins and some big points otherwise, and by Ferrari sharing points race after race LH has no worries. They’re too far back.

    14. Charles has more natural talent than Lewis so that he can easily dominating Vettel, although Vettel is a more talented driver than chicken Rosberg.

    15. The telling aspect about Singapore for me was that Ferrari were dominant, at a circuit everyone thought Mercedes would be masters of as they have been in past seasons. Ferrari had the downforce in the slow corners which they did not have earlier in the year, to go with their superior straightline speed.
      Mercedes should be more concerned about Ferrari’s overall performance, not just in the remaining grands prix of this season but for 2020 also. The fact that Vettel and Leclerc were fighting for the victory whilst Hamilton and Bottas bickered over fourth place speaks volumes.

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