Leclerc applied caution to 'tricky situation' with Vettel

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90 leads team mate Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF90. 31.03.2019
© XPB 

Charles Leclerc admitted he was cautious when he overtook Sebastian Vettel for the lead in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, as he was all to aware of the "tricky situation" involving his Ferrari team mate.

A scrappy launch of the line saw Leclerc overhauled by Vettel but also by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, leaving the Monegasque to chase in the first few laps of the race.

Leclerc quickly regained the upper hand over Bottas and set out after his team mate. After quickly catching Vettel, the young charger radioed in with a confident "I am faster guys".

However, Leclerc was told to hold station for two laps by the Scuderia's pit wall, but when he got a clean DRS run on Vettel into Turn 1 on lap 6, Leclerc took his chance, although with a minimum of caution given who he was racing.

"It’s always a tricky situation when you get to fight your teammate because the risks are very high and, as in every team, they warn you before the race: OK, you can try things on different people, but with your team-mate, please be careful – which is something normal," Leclerc said.

"It’s always obviously that something more.

"I had the opportunity and I didn’t hesitate, I just went for it. I was happy it was successful the first time I tried, especially after the bad start. So yeah, happy with how it ended up."

In hindsight, the timing of the move appeared like a clear overruling of a team order on the part of Leclerc, but the moral victor of the Bahrain Grand Prix was only interested in the outcome of his maneuver.

"I was just letting them know," he said.

"I think I had an answer, ‘okay, stay like this for two laps’ but then on the next straight I had the opportunity to go for it, so I went for it and it was a successful pass and then I was just quicker, so then I did my race."

A race that ended with a truncated result for Ferrari's new star, but Leclerec vowed to see beyond the painful disappointment of missing out on his maiden Grand Prix win.

"To lose the lead in this way it’s always a shame and always a disappointment but I also had a lot of things to do and there were still points to grab so I very quickly got back to focus on my race," he said.

"The win was out of reach because of the problem but there were still very important points to gain."

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