Pundits are predicting a meltdown at Ferrari after the team shot themselves in the foot multiple times during the Russian Grand Prix, all because of a bubbling civil war between their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Despite having the fastest car at present, the Reds are now embroiled in a new team orders debacle after repeatedly asking Vettel to let Leclerc past him at Sochi, which a radio ‘discussion’ between the red pitwall and their drivers.
Leclerc, who started on pole, revealed he had an “agreement” to let Vettel slipstream him into the lead from third at the start so that Ferrari could lead one-two. But in an episode that reminded many of Vettel’s ‘multi-21’ debacle of 2013, the German refused to comply.
Nevertheless, fans later crowned Vettel by voting him ‘Driver-of the-Day’, while pundits turned their ire at Ferrari’s race-meddling.
Christian Danner told RTL, “There’s no reason for Ferrari to intervene in such that manner. You can only hurt your own drivers if you put such orders on them.”
Jacques Villeneuve agreed and told Auto Bild, “Vettel set his car up for the race and was much faster. They didn’t have to tell Vettel to return the place immediately like that.
“They then spent the rest of the race thinking about how to put Leclerc back in front. Karma punished them in the end. Vettel was faster today and deserved to stay ahead. Now Ferrari have a serious problem,” added the 1997 F1 World Champion
Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, who until now has backed his former driver to bounce back into top form, commented: “Ferrari has managed to not win with the fastest car. And although he was the fastest man, they sacrificed Sebastian.
“He has no future at Ferrari anymore,” predicted the man who was in Vettel’s corner when he won four F1 titles on the trot for Red Bull.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, happy with the unexpected one-two but vowing to improve the 2019 car, said of the episode: “It shows that managing two drivers who are trying to win is not trivial.
“We did it as a team as well [Hamilton-Rosberg] and still do occasionally and it’s not easy. But in such cases, it is necessary to remember the function of the driver in the team and respect their desire to win,” he added.
Big Question: Do Ferrari now have a serious problem with their drivers?