Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Vettel admits he was wrong to defy team orders

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was wrong to disobey Ferrari’s instruction to let Charles Leclerc overtake him in the Russian Grand Prix.

Ferrari told Vettel on three separate occasions to let Leclerc overtake him following the Safety Car period at the start of the race. Vettel had been allowed to pass Leclerc at the start in order to ensure he also got ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but refused to hand the place back to his team mate.

Speaking to German media at Suzuka, Vettel wouldn’t be drawn on the terms of the agreement but admitted he “got the message at the radio to change the places and did not do it.”

“That was certainly not right,” Vettel added.

Team principal Mattia Binotto met separately with Vettel and Leclerc after the race. However Vettel said Ferrari have not felt the need to “write anything in stone” despite the events of Sochi.

“I don’t think is necessary,” he said. “Probably [there are] certain things that we could have done better looking back. But in the end we look forward to this race in the next races so I’m not worried too much.”

Ferrari’s performance in Russia gives them reason to be confident about the remaining races, Vettel added. “I think Russia in a way has been a very positive weekend because it’s been the first weekend where we really had the pace to win.

“We didn’t win the race but in terms of race pace I think we were a match with Mercedes, at times even faster. Whereas in the other races beforehand we had very good races but I think we benefit partly from our straight-line speed benefit and the positioning we had after qualifying so. Races like Singapore I think in terms of true race pace Mercedes was still faster than us.

“So in that regard I think it’s been a very positive weekend and obviously we tried to carry that momentum forward into the next races.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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37 comments on “Vettel admits he was wrong to defy team orders”

  1. Good PR stuff but Vettel is not going to change his spots now, he has been defying team orders since he began racing.

    And time is running out for that next championship so why would he even try?

  2. Great. Can we let this go now? Bored

    1. I enjoyed him tirelessly cleaning that kart from last weekends meeting with binotto.

  3. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission I guess

    Until the next time he does it

  4. Reminds me of his insistance he did nothing wrong in Baku 2017 then admitted he was in the wrong about 3 weeks later. The guy is the biggest brat on the grid.

    1. I don’t know, I think Leclerc will give him a run for his money in that department.

      1. MV and Leclerc are hotheaded young guns whilst in the car but often apologetic and fairly humble when out of it, well Leclerc anyway.

        1. Max? Humble and apologetic? Really? Cant honestly say i have seen that side of him.

          1. well Leclerc anyway.

            lol

          2. @Kurik
            He is as humble as he should be, and deprived of false modesty , but I’m pretty sure the first thing MV did after he hit Danny Ric in Hungary, was offering a beer and making excuses.
            Same with Vettel in China.
            The fact that he doesn’t apoligize for stuff that isn’t his fault is exactly how it should be.
            So you better fix your eyes because there must be something wrong with them.

        2. Vettel not humble out of the car? I think you have your lions crossed.

          1. @ho3n3r

            I think you have your lions crossed.

            Possibly better than having your loins crossed :o)

          2. @ho3n3r you’re confusing a placid demeanour with humility, they aren’t the same thing. Was it humble to swap the positioning stands at Canada? Or gesture that his teammate was gone in the head in Turkey 2010? Or told the race director to f off on the radio? Those are just off the top of my head.

      2. Leclerc did nothing wrong. He was clearly wronged by Vettel and very calmly explained on the radio that he was. He was then told by Ferrari that matters would be resolved and he accepted that.

    2. Opposite of Multi-21, when he apologized for it immediately afterwards then retracted his apology and said what he did was correct 3 weeks later.

      1. Yeah, that was a mistake – he should never have apologised.

        1. True, what is the use of these PR apologies when he is gonna be the same cheater in the future too.

  5. Where is the outcry like Abu Dahbi 2016 ? People had a lot to say when Lewis defied team orders in Abu Dahbi 2016 but now they are quiet and want to move on.. SMH

    1. The team admitted afterwards that giving that order was wrong

      Hamilton wasn’t the beneficiary of an agreed team strategy that he was then going back on, he was entirely in control trying to get the best result for himself when the team had already won both championships

      1. And to add to this, just about every team boss and driver asked BEFORE the race said that Hamilton’s best tacitc would be to back Rosberg into traffic and the reach of the Red Bulls and Ferrari’s.

        One of those team bosses? Toto Wolff.

        As for an ‘outcry’, that was just the usual anti-Hamilton brigade. Hamilton broke no rules, there was no pre-agreed strategy and frankly if Rosberg was worried about being passed, he should have just taken the fight to Hamilton and gotten passed him………………..or at least tried. Rosberg could rarely take the fight to Hamilton in that area.

      2. Sure – and Ferrari shouldn’t have used team orders either in this situation. Both drivers blatantly ignored an order from their teams. The difference is that one is Hamilton and one isn’t.

        For what it’s worth, I think both drivers were right to ignore the orders but it’s illogical to criticise one driver and congratulate the other.

        1. The difference is for Ferrari they agreed a strategy to achieve a 1-2 that saw Leclerc not defending the lead in good faith expecting the position to be given back and Vettel seizing the opportunity to keep the lead despite what was agreed

          Vs

          Hamilton leading the race on merit and tactically trying to back his championship opponent up when Mercedes was already going to win both championships

          They don’t compare

        2. @petebaldwin Ferrari NEEDED that agreement to make sure that Vettel would ended up ahead of Hamlton.

          Geez. At least Vettel finally admits this, but some daft people still deny it?

        3. Seems like you don’t understand the difference between Team orders and expecting a grown up person to follow his words he said during the gentlemen agreement, instead of showing his true ugly face the moment he had benefactored.

          Even children playing in the streets wouldn’t add him in the next game if he does this.

    2. @noname It is not even close to being the same situation.

    3. I understand you desperately want people to forget that the only significant thing vettel has achieved when has equally good competitors in equally good car, is his spins and cheatings. But deflecting the topic is not really a good argument. Isn’t it?

  6. He says that now that his car broke down and following team orders would have avoided all this commotion.

    I doubt he would be saying the same thing had he continued on to win the race.

  7. I’m a Leclerc fan, but I don’t think Vettel was in the wrong at all. I mean lets face it – it’s not like Charles would have obeyed that order either. Plus it didn’t really seem to me as if Sebastian was holding him up either; he seemed genuinely quick in the race.

    1. Vettel was clearly in the wrong. Both had exactly the same start. Vettel only got past Leclerc because Leclerc stayed on the outside line to give Vettel the tow. Instead of covering off the inside line (which would have given Hamilton the tow)

      So pre race they agreed to this and that if Vettel would benefit from Leclerc helping him past Hamilton, he would give the place back. And then he doesn’t!

      1. So? Vettel and Leclerc had an agreement in Monza qualifying where they’d give each other a tow. Sebastian stuck to his part of the bargain, Charles didn’t. And I’ve seen what you have to say about that incident – that Sebastian somehow caused the problem himself, by overtaking Charles. Like, really? Charles was making zero effort to overtake the traffic, and get to the finish line with Sebastian in tow, in a reasonable amount of time, for Sebastian to get his quick lap in (because he knew he had pole more or less in the bag if he didn’t). So of course Vettel overtook Leclerc in Monza qualifying; he was trying to coax him through with him. At the end of the day, Charles is only to happy to break the agreements he makes with Sebastian, if it suits him. So as much as I like Leclerc, I’m not going to get angry at Vettel for doing the same thing – it would be hypocritical.

        1. Well first of all, Vettel did not give Leclerc a tow either. Plus, Leclerc acyually went out ahead of Vettel and then Vettel overtook Leclerc. Besides they were all being blocked up by Huklkenberg, Stroll and Sainz. So how can you possibly blame Leclerc for this. It’s really ridiculous.

    2. Why do you think he’s “genuinely quick”. I think there were many more faster laps. More notably, the second fastest lap (fastest being Hamilton in free air) is by Leclerc with a overheated tyre because him following Bottas closely all the race.

      If you mean vettel going out like a stupid at such a high speed in the first few laps
      as “genuinely quick” then you definition of “quick” is only applicable to Hollywood movies and street races. If that is what is necessary to win the grand Prix, everyone in the grid will go all out and would blow up their engine. Won’t they?

      He tried to gain advantage at the cost of his teammate, by making him believe that he would give the position back, if he didn’t break the tow and defend. He thought, that now Leclerc has given a very little chance for Ferrari to compete with Mercedes by winning all the remaining races, he would make them favour him hereafter, if he finish here first and in the process making him the closest competitor to hamilton. Which is why he was desperate to prove everyone including the blind Ferrari fan base that “he would’ve gotten him anyway”.

      That kid literally defended an entire race against two mercedes, most spectacularly against the racer who is arguably the greatest ever. And do you think, vettel who spun because “he was surprised to see Hamilton” would have any chance against him?

      1. As much as Charles was complaining over the radio, had he really been so much faster than Sebastian, he’d have been all over the back of him like a rash. But as it was, Leclerc was around 1.2 seconds behind Vettel in the early stages, and in the latter stages of his first stint, dropped back to around four seconds. As much as you may hate to admit, he had that race under control when he was forced to retire. I’m a Leclerc fan myself, but there’s no way in hell he wouldn’t have followed Vettel nose to tail, in order to try and force an error from Sebastian, or at least make a point to the team that he was quicker, if he could have gotten closer. They were both on the same tires as well, so it’s not as if Vettel had the tire advantage. Also it wasn’t an engine failure Vettel’s car had, it was an electronics failure. Do your research before you talk down condescendingly to other people, please.

        And after what Leclerc did in Monza qualifying – not returning the slipstream to Vettel after they’d agreed too – a week after Sebastian had assisted Charles’s victory in Belgium by holding Lewis back for a few laps – you have some nerve to have a go at Vettel for breaking the agreement to get an advantage. Leclerc would have done exactly the same thing in Vettel’s position. Don’t have one rule for your favourite driver, and another rule for other drivers – it makes you a hypocrite.

        Now I really like Leclerc. He’s my favourite driver at the moment. But “arguably the greatest ever”? You’re fanboying hard there, man. He’s been in Formula One for less than two seasons – beating Hamilton to the win at Monza doesn’t elevate him to GOAT status. Especially when he resorted to some rather questionable defensive tactics to do so. Leclerc has the potential to be one of the all time greats, but he’s got to get some championships under his belt first, before you can actually call him that. And do you really think that’s going to be easy against Verstappen?

        As for who’s the better driver between Charles and Sebastian – I definitely feel it is Charles. Charles is the sort of driver who can adapt to very different cars, and be competitive. Sebastian can be very competitive, but he needs the car to be exactly to his liking. Unlike Charles, he can’t adapt much. That’s why as soon as Ferrari brought the updates in Singapore, Vettel’s performance saw an upturn. Because the new developments to the car, adapted the car to his liking.

        And I know what you’re going to say; that Vettel only won in Singapore because Ferrari gifted it to him via strategy. And to that I say, no. They didn’t. Had Ferrari pitted Charles first, and Sebastian second, it looked as if the best they could hope for, was a 1-3 finish. With Charles first, and Sebastian third. By pitting Sebastian first, Ferrari believed they could get a 1-2 two finish – still with Charles first. What swung the race in Vettel’s favour is that he put in a blinding outlap whilst Charles, for whatever reason, had a rather slow in-lap. Had Leclerc set a fast in-lap, he’d have come out in front of Vettel still, as planned.

  8. There is podium talk and then there is racing action. Which is why we can’t wait until the next race. Hopefully the typhoon stalls out at sea.

  9. Talk is cheap, so 40 million/year will buy any words you want. Plus he’s a racer, he’d say anything to drive at Ferrari.

    Following team orders on the track is another thing.

  10. DTV=
    D on’t T rust V ettel.

    Why even bother. Let them fight! May the best (dirtiest driver within reason of course!) WIN!!!

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