Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc has defended the Maranello team’s decision to extend his second stint in the Chinese Grand Prix, as the Italian side tried to hold up Valtteri Bottas. Charles was the last of the frontrunners to make his second pit stop, doing so after Mercedes stacked both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who were running in first and second place respectively.
Mercedes brought both of its drivers in to protect itself from Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, who had recently pitted. Charles Leclerc was kept out longer, but subsequently didn’t have enough time to catch up to Max Verstappen by the end of the race to reclaim fourth place: “I mean, if you look my own race, I think obviously we would have pitted earlier,” the Monegasque driver said, as reported by Sky Sports – “If you look the team’s race, I think they did the right thing trying to slow down the Mercedes for Seb to come back, which was, I believe, the target. It didn’t work but that was the target, at least we tried it, and we look forward now.” – he explained.
Charles Leclerc admits that he needs to speak with Ferrari in order to fully understand the thinking behind team orders, as the Monegasque driver was instructed to let teammate Sebastian Vettel past in the early stages of the race: “With Seb, I need to understand the full picture, to see the full picture, to speak with the engineers and understand the decision,” he said. “I’m pretty sure there’s an explanation behind this decision and I will understand it. Anyway, it’s [in the] past. It has not been a great race for me, but overall during the weekend, I’ve not been as strong as I wanted. Qualifying was okay, but FP1, FP2, FP3 and going into the race without any mileage on the high-fuel runs was not ideal. Overall today was not a good day, but we’ll come back stronger.” – Charles concluded.