Fifth in the China Grand Prix, which was disputed this past Sunday, Charles Leclerc left the race with some big regrets. Like the obligation to give way to his teammate despite an equal performance…
It’s all part of the understanding… or not. In signing Charles Leclerc at the end of last season, Ferrari made a bet on the future. The young Monegasque driver was meant to continue his apprenticeship in the wake of Sebastian Vettel, his quadruple F1 world champion teammate. This system, however, may have its limits, as was seen on the track in China this past weekend.
“From inside the cockpit, it was a little difficult to digest…”
For the China Grand Prix, the instructions were respected once again. In the 10th lap, the Monegasque had to give up his third position to his teammate. “I think I had a good start, but then our pace was not as good as Mercedes (…) so they asked me to “switch.” And when we switched, unfortunately, we had exactly the same performance, I stayed behind and I further damaged the tires,” responded the driver at the end of a race he finished in the fifth position. “From the cockpit, it was a little difficult to digest, but sometimes, in the cockpit, we do not see the same things as on from the pit,” as he tried to play down his rather visible disappointment.
“If Charles is upset, he has the right to be and we must accept it,” said Mattia Binotto, the Scuderia’s director. “I understand that feeling, but at this point in the race the Mercedes were faster and we tried to give Seb the best chance possible. It was not a question of favoring a driver.”
They did not favor a driver? Even before the race, the Italian team reminded Leclerc of the rule in force: priority is given to the German in case of a dilemma, just as it had been made public knowledge at the 2019 car presentation late last year. Of course, it is necessary to credit the Scuderia with a certain constancy for sticking to their plan. But, faced with the Monegasque’s good form on the track, the dilemma could quickly become insoluble.
*Article originally published on the French edition of the Monaco Tribune.