Ferrari seemed really desperate to ensure that Charles Leclerc remained ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Apparently the team radioed Vettel at least five time to let Leclerc pass, but he ignored the messages.
Admittedly only a limited number of Ferrari’s instructions were broadcast during the race. According to the entire team radio exchange, he was told early in the race to let Charles Leclerc overtake him.
Scuderia Ferrari had a specific plan in place for the race start with both of their drivers. Sebastian Vettel had to allow Leclerc to overtake him if he passed him under certain circumstances at the start.
However, Vettel asked them on the opening lap what the scenario was regarding the start. They informed him that the plan was to swap the two of them around “later in the race”.
After those two initial messages, and the conclusion of the Safety Car period, the dung hit the fan. Ferrari ordered Vettel on three more occasions to surrender the lead to his team mate. However, Sebastian Vettel was not willing to budge at all, and Leclerc was growing increasingly impatient.
When the first call came, Vettel suggested that they should “break away for another two laps”. During the second round of calls, Vettel told the team to tell Leclerc to speed up and get closer.
Things got interesting when Ferrari told Vettel that Leclerc was “starting to close the gap”. Vettel was strangely silent, but nevertheless, he continued to hold the lead doggedly. The team later informed him they were “moving to Plan C” in their strategy.
After a mixed race, with Leclerc losing a win and ending up 3rd, and Sebastian Vettel retiring, team principal Mattia Binotto was left to do a lot of explaining. The Italian denied claims that either driver had gone against the team’s pre-race agreement.