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Vettel explains 'team orders' in Australia

NEWS STORY
29/03/2019

With Charles Leclerc clearly the darling of some sections of the media, there was dismay when Mattia Binotto admitted pre-season that preference would be given to four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Those hoping to see the Monegasque driver 'do a Ricciardo' and dominate the German from the outset, were given a boost when it looked likely that Leclerc would finish ahead of his struggling teammate in their first race together.

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

"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.

"When Seb pitted, and put the medium tyres on, he didn't have the grip he was expecting," Binotto subsequently explained. "He was attacked by Verstappen, having not 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."

"I think from the team's point of view it was quite clear that fourth and fifth was the best result we could get," Vettel told reporters in Bahrain, when asked about the order.

"Obviously you never see completely what's going on at that point in the race," he continued, "both of us had to manage quite a lot to make it to the chequered flag. We still had some fuel to save, so it's not the first time... and obviously it depends if you have anybody in front or behind, but it's not the first time that people have been asked to freeze the race there and make sure you bring home the points.

"You can understand that," he added. "I don't think this was a strong team order. I can see for you and people there's quite a lot of excitement in these kind of things, maybe there's a story, but internally it was pretty straightforward."

Team orders aside, asked if he felt there was pressure on him to establish himself more following Leclerc's arrival, he replied: "Yeah, I think if you want to win you always have to justify it, you always have to prove that ultimately you can go faster than the others.

"I think it's part of competition, it's part of all of our lives that we grew up with. I think everyone, maybe some less or some more, but every one of us has a huge ambition to go faster than the other guy around.

"We are both working in the same direction," he continued, "and we're both keen to do the best we can on track. He's a very young and talented kid so I'm sure he will leave his mark this year and in the next years to come."

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1. Posted by Lapps, 29/03/2019 15:10

"And now Charles’ reward is being frozen out of the post Bahrain testing! What is going on?"

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