Mattia Binotto felt it was “wiser to take no chances” in Melbourne, leading to Ferrari’s call to issue team orders for Charles Leclerc not to attack Sebastian Vettel.
Although Vettel had the better of his new team-mate for most of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, that came to a grinding halt in the latter half of Sunday’s grand prix.
Vettel struggled for pace on the medium tyres, unable to find any grip.
As such he lost third place to Max Verstappen and almost lost fourth to his team-mate, Leclerc.
However, right on his team-mate’s rear wing, Leclerc asked what he should do.
He was told to “back off to have some margin.”
Here is the team radio of @Charles_Leclerc asking if he should stay behind Vettel
Charles: "Should I stay behind Sebastian? Yes or no?"
"Yes and back off to have some margin"
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) March 17, 2019
New team boss Binotto believes it was the “wiser” call.
“By Friday we were not comfortable on this track,” he admitted.
“Although we did a lot of set-up work, we did not find the right balance and even our qualifying performances showed that we struggled to adapt to the Albert Park track.
“Then, during the race, during the first stint, we tried to keep the pace. Charles made a slight mistake, which prevented him from staying with the leaders.
“After his pit stop, Seb’s car never found grip on the medium tyres and so he was unable to attack those ahead.
“When he could no longer defend himself from Verstappen, we decided that the most important thing was to go all the way and manage the tyres.
“When Charles caught up with him, it seemed wiser to take no chances.
“We are leaving Australia with a lot of data to analyse and we will use it to determine how to return to our level of competitiveness in two weeks in Bahrain.”