Drama on track between Ferrari drivers Vettel and Leclerc in Russia over team orders
What happens when you put one former four-time world champion and a young rookie out for blood in the same Formula One team? Big time DRAMA.
This weekend's Russian Grand Prix in Sochi was bound to be action-packed as Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel took P1 ad P3 in qualifying and were sandwiched between five time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
But as soon as the five red lights turned green on lap 1, things were decidedly not okay for team Ferrari and it played out very publically over the team radio open for both viewers and other teams to listen in.
Sebastian Vettel straight off the start stormed to first place past his team mate Charles Leclerc in what seems to be in direct violation of team orders.
So what were the team orders?
Both drivers and their race engineers came up with a pre-race agreement to work together and block Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in second place from taking the lead and ensuring a Ferrari one-two at the finish line.
But Vettel sensing an oppourtunity used Leclerc's slipstream right at the start of the race to storm straight into P1.
What ensued after, kept fans riveted to their TV screens.
Here's the exact radio transcript from the two drivers' and their respective race engineers:
Ferrari to Charles Leclerc: "We are looking into doing the swap partway into the race."
Leclerc to Ferrari: "Yeah yeah, no problem, this I understand."
Ferrari to Leclerc: "Sebastian will let you by next lap."
Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari: "I would have got him anyways. But let's break away for another two laps."
Ferrari to Vettel: "Let Charles by."
Vettel to Ferrari: "He'll have to close up."
Ferrari to Vettel: “Let him by, gap is 1.4 seconds."
Leclerc to Ferrari: "You put me behind. I respected everything. We will speak later. But now it is difficult to close the gap obviously."
Ferrari to Vettel: “You are the fastest car on-track, head down, you are doing well. We are looking into Plan C, Charles is 1.9 behind."
Ferrari to Leclerc: "Charles, we will do the swap later on. Lewis is a bit close, and we want to push now into the race. We will do it later, just focus on your race, thank you."
Leclerc to Ferrari: "I completely understand. The only thing is that I respected. I gave the slipstream, no problems. But then I tried to push at the beginning of the race, but it's no problems. Manage the situation."
Ferrari to Leclerc: “Sebastian in front 3.7, Hamilton behind 3.3."
Ferrari to Leclerc: “You can push now."
Vettel to Ferrari: “My rears are falling off."
Ferrari to Vettel: “We are worried about Hamilton going long, Hamilton lap time 8.8."
Ferrari to Vettel: "Box now Seb, box now."
Vettel to Ferrari: “I’ve got no K."
Ferrari to Vettel: “Stop the car now."
Vettel to Ferrari: “Are you serious? Bring back f**king V12s."
This is what Leclerc had to say at the post race interview:
. @Charles_Leclerc : "The agreement was simple, I had to give the slipstream to Seb, let him pass at the 2nd corner so we are 1st and 2nd and then swap back. The swap was a bit later in the pit stop and then we had the issue on Seb's car/VSC, very unlucky."
: RTL#RussianGP pic.twitter.com/SYBes5LhTe— Charles Leclerc Fan Page (@LeclercNews) September 29, 2019
Seeing as the tension between the two racing drivers has been at an all time high over the last four race weekends, it will be interesting to see how team Ferrai manage the situation and the drivers.