Binotto defends team tactics


Already hurting as Lewis Hamilton cruised to a second successive victory, and Mercedes third 1-2 of the season, Ferrari faced further criticism from fans and the media for a strategy which appeared to be all over the place and effectively cost Charles Leclerc fourth place.

Having passed his teammate on the run to T1, Leclerc was subsequently told to yield to Vettel who appeared to have more pace at a time the Mercedes duo were pulling away. However, once through, the German continued to lose ground to the Silver Arrows, while the Monegasque was now left exposed to an aggressive strategy from Red Bull which saw Max Verstappen go for the undercut.

"It was not an easy decision, because we understand the drivers need to battle to stay ahead as much as they can," said Binotto. "As a team we need to maximize the team's points. In that respect, we made the right choice.

"We could not lose time to the Mercedes ahead, and that was the only chance we got," he continued. "We tried, it didn't work, but it seemed right to give that chance to Seb."

"I understand the feeling of Charles, it's a shame for him," he subsequently told Sky Sports F1. "But at that stage of the race the Mercedes were slightly faster, we simply tried to give Sebastian a go and see if we could've kept the pace of the Mercedes, which was key at that stage of the race.

"It was not to give an advantage to a driver, to the other driver," he insisted, "merely as a team to try whatever we could. It was an important moment of the race.

"I think with an undercut he would've anyway... one of the two drivers would've been undercut... whoever was the driver," he added.

"As team perspective, I think that wouldn't have changed, that's why, again, I think the choice was simply try everything we could at that stage.

"If Charles is upset, he's right to be upset, and we should accept it," he admitted. "I think it's a shame for him, and next time maybe it will be to his advantage.

"Mercedes has been fast the entire weekend since Friday, they have been fastest in qualifying and they proved to be faster today as well. What is interesting is that within two races the situation has changed completely. We were fast in Bahrain, two weeks after it has been the opposite. I think this is the way we need to look at the championship, each single race the cars will be different. It’s our duty and task now to turn up the cars as much as we can and make sure we are always on top."

Vettel, who claimed his first podium finish of the season, said he understood the team's decision, even though it was to cost his teammate fourth place.

"The priority always lies with the team," he said, "Charles is aware, I am aware, that we are driving for the team. We are fighting for our own race, but usually with this kind of stuff, it's never pleasant.

"We have so many races, only time will tell whether we did something right or wrong," he continued. "Obviously I want to be ahead of Charles, he wants to be ahead of me, that's the name of the game. I think the upsetting thing after the race is that we didn't manage to finish third and fourth.

"We need to try to get stronger and fight Mercedes, which is currently a little bit ahead. We need to understand why we are behind and work on that so we don't have to worry about these things."

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Published: 14/04/2019
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