Sebastian Vettel said Ferrari had much “homework” to do after a team orders controversy capped a disappointing weekend at the 1,000th Formula One Grand Prix in China.
The Italian marque have shown superior straight-line speed this season, but Mercedes have taken first and second in all three races so far in a run that has surprised even championship leader Lewis Hamilton. The reigning world champion seized control of the drivers’ standings with victory ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Shanghai on Sunday, while Ferrari’s challenge dissolved behind them. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third, while Charles Leclerc had to settle for fifth place.
Team principal Mattia Binotto made it clear before the race that Sebastian Vettel remained the priority over the talented but for now inexperienced Charles Leclerc. The plan was to put pressure on the Mercedes duo at the front, but Sebastian failed to make inroads and Charles was caught by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who split the Ferraris to come fourth: “Our decisions on strategy were taken to try to maximise the team’s result,” Mattia Binotto said, praising the way that the clearly unhappy Leclerc handled the situation.
Binotto feels that while Ferrari had the better package in Bahrain — where Hamilton only won because Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari lost power — Mercedes had the edge in Shanghai: “This was just one race, things are changing from one weekend to the next and therefore we need to look at the championship thinking that every race may be different,” he said – “We will go back to Maranello (Ferrari HQ) and look at all the data, try to understand what didn’t work this weekend in order to improve. We need to further develop the car and understand where the limits are, then come back stronger for Baku. It’s again a completely different circuit and we need to approach that race with a positive attitude to do our best”.” – the Ferrari Team Principal concluded at the end of the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix.