Ferrari were naive thinking Vettel would swap

Mark Scott


The criticism of Ferrari continues following the Russian Grand Prix, with their team order plan creating more unnecessary trouble.

According to our readers and forum members, Ferrari were punished for not taking into consideration that Sebastian Vettel was capable of being quick and expecting him to move over so soon with Lewis Hamilton lurking behind.

You can join the discussion over on the PlanetF1 forum here or head to the comments section down below…

Crazy talk

Regardless of whether we as fans think he should have gave Leclerc the position back or not, the timing was wrong. It would have put Vettel at too much risk from Hamilton.

I keep thinking that any time orders like that have been implemented (or at least suggested) the driver behind has been all over the driver infront gearbox, be it engine modes, driving style or whatever Vettel was just in the zone like his Red Bull days.

If you looked at how much faster Vettel was, to expect him to stay behind LeClerc was crazy, regardless of pre-race team instruction. They didn’t take into account Vetel genuinely being faster in general and whenever we have had team orders it’s usually because the driver behind is or believes he’s faster anyway which Leclerc wasn’t.

It was a pre arranged plan that didn’t take race pace into consideration.

Actually in this case would have been easier to swap with an undercut (like what happened), or done it once they were not as under threat of the Mercs.


Stupid to even ask

Hamilton was 2-3 seconds behind Leclerc during the entire argument. If Vettel had moved over then Hamilton would have been within 1.5 seconds of a Ferrari, probably even DRS range. If they were going to switch then fair enough but at that early stage of the race it was just stupidity to even ask.

Worth noting that at no point did Vettel say he absolutely would not move over. His concern was solely about Hamilton. Surely even he knew they could just give Leclerc the undercut so he wasn’t the maniacal manipulator, defying team orders because they don’t apply to him, like some have made him out to be.

If he had moved over then Hamilton would have got him too and the internet would be condemning Ferrari even more.

If both Ferraris had just got on with it, and the K problem not surfaced, then they would have pulled away (slowly) from Hamilton, swapped them at the pits, and be in prime position to fight together against Hamilton coming at them on the soft tires.


Vettel’s impulse took over

Much as I feel that Vettel clearly is and was untrustworthy it is not him that I blame.

To put someone at the head of a field as an experienced champion in the fastest car and expect him to give it up is not a plan anyone should expect to be honoured.

I blame Ferrari for being so weak and naive as to consider it a plan. They should have said “do it if you want but you both have to accept the consequences”.

Leclerc will never do that again and will be asking some pretty pointed questions of his race management team.

Ferrari were pathetic on the radio and it does the sport no good at all to look so fixed. Having rewatched the race it’s clear that Vettel was having a ‘burst of form’ and Leclerc either let him go or couldn’t respond.

If he couldn’t respond then I’m not sure I understand what happened as CL has consistently been faster in recent races.

Leclerc learned a lesson and despite the agreement Vettel’s impulsiveness took over. On Vettel’s part I’m not sure how Ferrari respond to his belligerence; I suspect they will allow themselves to be bullied but if they want to seriously challenge for titles they need to get a grip.

Option or Prime

Vettel can not be blamed for any of this. He had to stop or his car would have got wrecked.

He simply looked to be outperforming Leclerc as soon as he got ahead. He got ahead due to a better start much more than Leclerc helping him.

Vettel had luck last race to get ahead, but both times Vettel has been in the lead, he has looked better than Leclerc.


What about the Safety Car period?

One thing I don’t see people talking about is the decision to pit Charles during that safety car period; costing him track position on Bottas. I thought that was foolish personally.

His tyres were fine and a restart behind Hamilton with a shot at slipstreaming his way to P1 was always a better bet than having to overtake both Mercedes cars.

There was no way Bottas was going to be able to pass him so P2 was basically a lock if he stayed out. Ferrari really had a nightmare race strategically.