British racing driver Jenson Button has questioned Scuderia Ferrari’s controversial decision to strike a tactical deal before Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix. The Maranello team called on pole-sitter Charles Leclerc to provide Sebastian Vettel, who started from third, with a slipstream to help him move ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
But Ferrari’s pre-race arrangement determined that if Sebastian benefitted from Charles’ tow to take the lead off his team-mate, then he should concede the position. The German driver said that he would be in danger of losing third to Hamilton if he slowed down to let Charles through. He also argued that he made the move fair and square and without the advantage of a tow.
“I don’t get why they had a deal in the first place,” said Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One world champion. “I find it very strange that Sebastian had to give the place back. Ferrari have overthought it. It is such a strange deal to have. If Seb gets past, he gets past, and Ferrari wins. It’s just a very strange situation to be in.” – he explained.
Sebastian Vettel ultimately retired with an engine failure, allowing Lewis Hamilton to take advantage of the ensuing virtual safety car period by taking a free pit stop and assuming the lead.
On a miserable afternoon for Ferrari, Charles then dropped behind Valtteri Bottas after a gamble to stop for fresh tyres backfired. Hamilton went on to claim his ninth victory of the year to move 73 points clear of Bottas in the standings and 107 ahead of Charles Leclerc with just 130 points to play for.