Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto praised Charles Leclerc for being a “team player” and explained why he was told not to pass Sebastian Vettel at the end of the race.
Leclerc caught his team mate during the final laps of the race but was told to “back off to have some margin” when he asked if he was allowed to pass Vettel.
Binotto explains that because Vettel was on older tyres at the time and struggling for pace, the team decided to tell its drivers to hold position.
“When Seb pitted for the medium tyres he didn’t have on that new tyres the grip he expecting and he was attacked [and passed] by Verstappen,” said Binotto.
“So we decided to bring the car home. He was managing the tyres to the end and I think that 10 laps to the end as a team we decided not to take any risks, hold positions and bring the cars home, scoring points.
Binotto said the decision was “not a difficult one”.
“Sebastian was managing his pace because of poor grip, bringing the car home. Charles did a great second stint but [with] 10 laps to go there was no reason to take risks today. We were not battling for the first position.”
Leclerc was unhappy with his performance in qualifying yesterday but Binotto praised the job his new driver did in his first race weekend. “I’m happy with the way he is behaving as a team player, not only as a driver,” he said.
“He’s very helpful for the team. He is very involved, trying to do his best, pushing hard the engineers to improve and have a better car.
“I think if we judge his entire weekend it’s a pretty strong one. His quali wasn’t perfect, he’s aware of it. But I think he drove well through Q1 and Q2, maybe not perfect in Q3.
“But generally speaking he had a good weekend. I think his second stint was also performing well. So I’m quite happy with the way he’s approaching the first race. He’s at the starting point, it’s a good starting point.”
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