Four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel was not surprised that Charles Leclerc defied Scuderia Ferrari’s team orders in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the first pole position of his Formula 1 career for the 2019 season’s second race, the Bahrain Grand Prix, at Bahrain International Circuit ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who qualified on the front row in second place.
Vettel got off to a much stronger start to the race than his teammate did, as the 31-year-old German took the lead right away while the 21-year-old Monegasque fell to second place and then to third behind Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport’s Valtteri Bottas.
But Leclerc clearly had the pace he needed to get back up to the front of the field, and he was able to pass Bottas for second place a few laps later because of it. Shortly thereafter, he had worked his way back up to right behind Vettel.
However, despite the fact that Ferrari stated before the race that there would be no team orders to prioritize one of their two drivers over the other, they did what they did in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and told Leclerc not to pass Vettel.
This team order, however, was for Leclerc not to pass Vettel for “two more laps”. That said, we will never know if “two more laps” really only meant “two more laps”, as Leclerc proceeded to pass Vettel the following lap anyway. But Vettel was not surprised by Leclerc’s move, and he certainly doesn’t hold it against him.
Here is what Vettel had to say about the matter, according to RaceFans.
“I think it was quite clear that he was quite a lot faster at that point. I could have passed him back on the next straight but for me, the way I judged it, at that point was that it’s going to cost me more time and him more time. The race was very long from that point onwards, as I’ve said. It didn’t go exactly my way on that Sunday so at that point it wasn’t part of trying to destroy or trying to hold Charles’s Sunday back.”
Leclerc went on to dominate the race before an engine issue with 10 of its 57 laps remaining relegated him to a third place finish behind Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Bottas in first and second, respectively. Vettel, meanwhile, spun out with 20 laps remaining after Hamilton passed him for second, effectively throwing away his chances of finishing the race in the top two and perhaps even winning it.
How will the teammate battle between Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel play out in this weekend’s race, the Chinese Grand Prix? This race, which is the third of 21 races on the 2019 Formula 1 schedule, is scheduled to take place at 2:05 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 14, and it is set to be broadcast live on ESPN2 from Shanghai International Circuit in Jiading, Shanghai, China.