Ferrari insist they were not trying to hamper Charles Leclerc’s race by ordering him to let Sebastian Vettel past in the Chinese GP.vTeam principal Mattia Binotto says the Scuderia were simply trying anything they could to reel in the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas ahead.
Charles Leclerc moved aside for Sebastian Vettel on Lap 11 when running third, but he finished fifth after being overtaken by Max Verstappen through the pit stops.
“It was not to give an advantage to a driver. It really is the team trying whatever we could,” Binotto told Sky F1. “It was an early stage but an important moment of the race. I understand the feeling of Charles. It’s a shame for him but at that stage of the race Mercedes were slightly faster and we simply tried to give Sebastian a go and see if he could keep the pace of Mercedes. If Charles is upset, he is right to be upset. We should accept it, it’s a shame for him and next time maybe it will be to his advantage.”
Sebastian Vettel was unable to pull away from his team-mate after being let through, locking up several times, and he ultimately had to settle for third, nearly 14 seconds off the lead. Charles Leclerc said he would speak with his team to get a greater understanding about why the decision was made.
“I need to understand the full picture and see the full picture, to speak with the engineers and understand the decision,” Leclerc told Sky F1.
“For sure there is an explanation behind this decision and I will understand it.I don’t know [if the call was made too early]. I need to look at the data and speak to the engineers to understand. I don’t want to make any silly comments. Anyway it’s passed. It’s not been a great race for me but overall the weekend I’ve not been as strong as I wanted driving.”