Scuderia Ferrari was gunning for a 4th successive victory at the Russian Grand Prix 2019. However, they blew their chances, quite spectacularly too, as team orders ruined everything. According to 1997 champion, Jacques Villeneuve, it was “karma” for Ferrari as they overcomplicated their strategy.
From the race start itself, Ferrari tried to implement team orders to script another 1-2 finish. Apparently, there was a pre-race agreement between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. After getting a slipstream from Leclerc, Vettel needed to surrender P1 back to the Monegasque driver at Turn Two.
As it turns out, Vettel had other ideas and argued that he would have been ahead, owing to a better start. Naturally, Leclerc was furious at being shafted aside and he did not hold back on the radio. The argument went in circles until Leclerc finally got his way in the pit stop phase. Unfortunately, Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire midway due to an MGU-K failure.
“I didn’t like how Ferrari managed the strategy,” mused Villeneuve during Sky Sports Italy’s broadcast.
“They didn’t have to tell Vettel immediately to give the place back and then they spent the rest of the race thinking about how to get Leclerc back out in front and then karma punished them. Vettel was faster today and deserved to stay ahead.”
Meanwhile, former driver Davide Valsecchi believes that Ferrari got too selfish in their thought-process. As a result, they failed to anticipate the threat of Lewis Hamilton on an alternative strategy.
“In my opinion, Ferrari has been stubborn about solving the problem of first place, how to get Leclerc to pass again without thinking about Hamilton,” he added.
“Today Lewis proved to be surprisingly fast. Ferrari had to think about pushing to stretch the advantage over Hamilton rather than thinking about giving Leclerc back the top spot.”
In addition to that, Ferrari test driver, Marc Gene observed that the ideal time to swap the drivers was during the pit stops.
He was of the opinion that overtaking at the start would mean that they showed their hand too early. As a consequence of Ferrari’s bumbling, Charles Leclerc was forced to settle for P3 behind a surprised Mercedes duo, with Lewis Hamilton winning.