Formula 1

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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto explains the thinking behind telling Leclerc to let Vettel past

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Charles Leclerc was left scratching his head as team orders controversy cost him in the Chinese Grand Prix earlier today.

The Frenchman, who was unlucky to miss out last time in the Bahrain Grand Prix after a power failure cost him almost certain victory in the race, suffered more heartache this time around.

Leclerc was told let Vettel past him into third on lap 11 to see if he could provide more of challenge to the Mercedes pair in front of them.

Ultimately it proved fruitless, however, as Vettel never really came close to contesting the front two.

Ferrari team boss,  insisted that the team orders were simply doing whatever was necessary to reel in the Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton who were ahead at the time.

He maintained that it wasn’t about giving preferential treatment to one driver over the other.

"It was not to give an advantage to a driver. It really is the team trying whatever we could," Binotto told Sky F1.

"It was an early stage but an important moment of the race. I understand the feeling of Charles. It's a shame for him but at that stage of the race Mercedes were slightly faster and we simply tried to give Sebastian a go and see if he could keep the pace of Mercedes.

F1 Grand Prix of China

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

After Vettel was let through, he didn’t make any more headway with the leaders and finished a distant third, 14 seconds off the pace.

Leclerc was relatively diplomatic after the race, telling reporters that he will need to go back and look at why the decision was made in detail.

“I need to understand the full picture and see the full picture, to speak with the engineers and understand the decision," he said.

"For sure there is an explanation behind this decision, and I will understand it.

F1 Grand Prix of China

"I don't know [if the call was made too early]. I need to look at the data and speak to the engineers to understand. I don't want to make any silly comments.

"Anyway it's passed. It's not been a great race for me but overall the weekend I've not been as strong as I wanted driving."

After such a promising race in Bahrain last time around but ultimately for little reward, Leclerc is battling to stay in touch with the Mercedes drivers now after winning three on the bounce.

It will be fascinating to see if he and Ferrari can avoid any further debate and bounce back in Baku in a couple of weeks time.

Topics:
Charles Leclerc
Valtteri Bottas
Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari
McLaren
Mercedes
Formula 1

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