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Ferrari explains decision not to release Leclerc

NEWS STORY
17/03/2019

If Valtteri Bottas' post-flag radio call left few in any doubt as to its meaning, the exchange between Charles Leclerc and his team was even more obvious.

As Sebastian Vettel struggled on his mediums in the closing stages of the race, Leclerc was closing at a rapid rate of knots, clearly faster than the German.

"Should I stay behind Sebastian, yes or no?" asked the youngster.

"Yes, and back off to have some margin," came the reply.

"OK," agreed Leclerc.

While team boss Mattia Binotto admitted before the season got underway that in the opening stages of the year priority would be given to Vettel, there was widespread disbelief that as he was so clearly struggling, the team couldn't allow his quicker teammate to pass or at least pit for fresh rubber and attempt a bid for fastest lap.

"When Seb pitted, and put the medium tyres on, he didn't have the grip he was expecting," explained Binotto at race end. He was attacked by Verstappen, having been in the position to hold his position on track, so we decided to bring the car home.

"He was managing the tyres to the end," he added. "I think, ten laps to the end, we decided not to take any risks and hold positions, to bring the cars home and score points.

"Sebastian was managing his pace because of poor grip, and bringing the car home," he insisted. "Charles did a great second stint, but with ten laps to go, there was no reason to take a risk, they were not fighting for the first position."

Asked why the team didn't at least pit the Monegasque for fresh rubber and allow him to go for fastest lap, Binotto said: "We had the window to pit Charles for new tyres and go for the fastest lap, but, as I said, at that late stage, whenever you pit it may be a risk. It was more important for us to bring the car home, score the points.

"Sometimes races where you are not the best, it's still important to score points," he added. "That was our choice. We will review the race and eventually the decision, but it was for that reason."

Meanwhile, with just two weeks before Bahrain, Ferrari needs to find the answer to another question, that asked by Vettel himself: "Why are we so slow?"

Check out our Sunday gallery from Melbourne, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Cobra Racer, 18/03/2019 14:17

"Here we go again! Nothing has changed at Ferrari. New boss, same old same old. If they will not give the young man permission to race, why did they promote (?) him.
"

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2. Posted by Toffeecup0, 18/03/2019 11:41

"I think it’s all wrong thought team orders were banned leclerc should have had the chance to overtake vettel if he was faster which he was there should be no favouritism just cos vettel was a world champion "

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3. Posted by @R1Racing71, 18/03/2019 10:56

"Leclerc didn’t have the tidiest weekend, he also went off during the race.
It was a fair decision to hold station.
On this occasion…..
"

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4. Posted by Lapps, 18/03/2019 10:11

"Yes they did say they would favour Seb, but also that “they are free to race”. Didn’t look like it and there was no risk in a position swop. We will see at the end of the Season if they backed the right Horse."

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5. Posted by Noushki, 18/03/2019 9:17

"Team that said it would support one driver over another at the beginning of the season chooses to support one driver over another and make sure both poorly-performing cars score the maximum points and take no risks considering how worried they are about pace in only the first race. Shock horror!"

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6. Posted by Lapps, 18/03/2019 8:18

"What was the ‘risk’ in allowing Charl past? Why not use the well established Ferrari “..... is faster than you” message?
LeClerc will end the Season with more points than Seb, so this decision could cost a Championship place!"

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7. Posted by GarH, 17/03/2019 20:00

"Typically Ferrari, everyone too scared to make a decision in case it was wrong."

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