Sebastian Vettel says the team-orders headache Ferrari was experiencing in the early laps of the Russian Grand Prix was made irrelevant by his retirement from the race.
Charles Leclerc started from pole, but Vettel got a good start and picked up the tow from his teammate on the long run to Turn 2, Leclerc choosing not to defend and so ensure the pair emerged in first and second places.
Vettel was then told to give the position back to Leclerc in the opening stint, but didn’t do so. So the team let Leclerc get the undercut during the pit stops, getting him ahead of Vettel, but the German retired soon after with a power unit problem.
“I think we did (race),” Vettel said. “I think that is what we did until the pit stop in a way because, obviously, I lost the lead during the stop, and then the car broke down so it is a bit irrelevant. Up to that point that is what we did.
“I don’t know what happened. I think we had an agreement. I spoke with Charles in particular before the race. I think it was quite clear, but I don’t know, maybe I missed something. I’m sure we will talk about it, but obviously it is bitter today because we wanted to have the cars finishing one and two. So not the result that we wanted.”
However, when asked what was agreed between himself and Leclerc before the race, Vettel was less keen to explain what Ferrari had planned.
“I don’t want to share. Not a great deal, but I don’t want to put the team in a bad position afterwards because somebody said something here and there. It is just … I know it is not fair because I think people deserve to know. It is not a big deal.
“I obviously was in third, Charles was in first, and we were talking about a strategy to find a way past Lewis. I had a very good start. So there were a couple of options on the table. But, sorry, I really prefer not to (say more).”