Vettel backs Ferrari's 'fair' use of team orders

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Scuderia Ferrari
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel said he had no issue with the way that Ferrari used team orders in today's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

vettel was beaten off the line by his young team mate Charles Leclerc at the start of the race. But the Monegasque driver was subsequently ordered to let Vettel back in front.

“I felt I could go faster than Charles," Vettel explained, who subsequently locked up his tyres after being let by which meant he lost the chance to carry the fight to the Mercedes drivers ahead.

"It was difficult for me to find a rhythm so I locked up and lost the advantage again," he concurred. "I think it’s fair if you see the whole race – we just weren’t able to catch Mercedes."

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto emphasised that the decisions made by the Ferrari pit wall had been for the good of the team rather than one driver over the other.

"If Charles is upset, he is right to be upset," Binotto told Sky Sports F1. "At that stage of the race, Mercedes were simply faster, we tried to give Sebastian a chance to keep the pace of the Mercedes.

"It was not to give an advantage to one driver or the other, we as a team did what we could at an important stage of the race," he said." Maybe next time, it will be to Charles' advantage. I understand his feelings, it's a shame for him."

A delayed pit stop meant that Leclerc subsequently dropped down to fifth place behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

“I was hoping for Charles to pip Max at the end but he was too far back," commented Vettel, who had come out on top in a wheel-to-wheel fight of his own to fend off the Dutchman following their first pit stops.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15. 14.04.2019.

“The race with Max was good fun," Vettel recalled. “I saw Max coming and the speed delta at the end of the straight.

“Knowing Max, I knew he would try so I predicted that he would go down the inside and he did," he added. “I had a moment when I had to open it up.

"I tried to cut back, and it worked. I had a bit of a moment, I had to open the car a bit, but it was good," he continued. "I could nearly get a car length ahead of him and the angle into the last corner for him wasn't very sexy."

It meant that Vettel claimed his first podium of the season - but it still felt a long way from what he had been hoping for.

"I’m happy to be on the podium," he insisted. "But the objective was trying to chase Lewis and Valtteri down.

"It was tough to stick with Mercedes from the start," he admitted. "They were too quick for us today, but congratulations to them."

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