Although the Russian Grand Prix exposed the internal battle between there two drivers, this is something that has been boiling over since the first team order in Melbourne. All season long the two Ferrari drivers have battled each other and now that wins are possible for the team, we’re really starting to see Vettel and Leclerc’s true colours. But, can they continue like this and can Ferrari really win titles with them as teammates?
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Marko: Vettel and Leclerc will break
Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko says the team want to capatalise when the balance between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc breaks.
Tension is building over at Ferrari – on one hand they have the young and hungry Charles Leclerc who is exceeding their expectations but proving impatient, on the other is four-time World Champion Vettel who is desperately trying to maintain his grip on the team against their shiny new toy.
The latest incident between the two came at the Russian Grand Prix as the team’s strategy fell to pieces with Vettel refusing to yield his lead to Leclerc and, while their relationship for now is “still very respectful”, Marko wants to be there when the balance finally breaks.
“It will be interesting to see what happens. There is a damn fast and reluctant kid standing in line,” Marko told Austrian newspaper Osterreich.
“Both Vettel and Leclerc are still very respectful to each other at the moment, but in the end this balance will break.
“Maybe it will only happen next year, but we want to be there in the fight because it will be a really exciting situation.”
Marko believes that Vettel, who won all four of his titles with Red Bull between 2010-13, showed in Singapore with his win that he is still a “true champion”.
“In Singapore he wasn’t just lucky with the pit stop,” he insisted.
“He did a great lap and worked well under pressure. Sebastian sniffed his chance and used it, proving he is still a true champion.”
Ferrari have returned from the summer break a changed team, winning three of the four races, and Marko accepts that they are “unrecognisable” from the outfit that finished a minute behind Lewis Hamilton in Hungary.
“Looking at the Budapest race, Ferrari are unrecognisable now,” he said.
“Suddenly they put a very fast car on the track.”
Ferrari were naive thinking Vettel would swap
Ferrari: Vettel-Leclerc rivalry a ‘luxury’
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has played down the latest friction between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, saying he still considers it a “luxury”.
Just a week after Ferrari’s controversial pit strategy resulted in Vettel beating Leclerc to victory in Singapore, the Scuderia’s tactics again raised some eyebrows at the Russian Grand Prix over the weekend.
Pole-sitter Leclerc followed the pre-race plan to give Vettel the slipstream on the run down to Turn 1, which resulted in both Ferraris being ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
However, the strategy went out of the window as Vettel then failed to give the place back to Leclerc and it resulted in breakdown of the relationship between the two drivers on track in Sochi.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff warned last week that their rivalry could be escalating, but Binotto is playing the latest fall-out down.
“I still believe it’s a luxury,” he is quoted as saying by Sky F1.
“We have got two fantastic drivers therefore that’s where I’m starting from.”
He also again explained the strategy.
“Looking at the video and looking at the start our judgement was that the start went as planned and therefore we thought it was right to ask Seb to swap the positions,” he said.
“Eventually the two drivers may have different opinions by driving the car but that’s something we may discuss with them. So we asked Seb to give the position back but (it was) fair enough to say at that stage of the race maybe Charles was not close enough and we would have lost some time on track.
“Then later on Seb was quite fast and gained some track advantage on Charles. So we knew that we could have decided to do it later on.”