Team boss Mattia Binotto called it “the worst conclusion on a very bad weekend from us”, but he called for Ferrari to “work united” rather than focus on playing the blame game.
Yet another clash between the Ferrari drivers was actually just a bit of first lap clumsiness – in this case from Leclerc. It was far too busy a situation already to try taking advantage. Not a big deal in a racing sense – but a massive deal internally for the under-the-cosh Scuderia.
Had it been Vettel at fault it might have actually been more awkward, given the dymamic of Leclerc being the long-term team leader, Vettel the soon-to-depart champion.
Leclerc let the team down on this occasion but it can be argued that Ferrari has let its drivers down with the car it has provided them. Besides, this has come only seven days after Leclerc massively flattered the car with his second place last week.
But is there a question of discipline to be established by Mattia Binotto here? He already has had to publicly admonish Leclerc for breaking the COVID bubble protocols in between races.
It’s an absolute no-no for a team’s two cars to collide, and a particular nightmare when it is already under the microscope because of the competitive failings of its car. It’s now happened twice in the last four races.
Binotto needs to be both strong and inspiring in this nasty phase of the team’s fortunes. Which is essentially a run-on from how it chose to interpret the fuel flow regulations last season.
There’s no question is was a foolish, rookie error from Leclerc. Vettel’s said it, and Leclerc has held his hands up.
But while Vettel could understandably expect his team-mate wouldn’t throw his nose into a gap that was likely to close, it’s always a risk to open the door in the way he did.
Vettel was trying to widen his approach to Turn 3 to get a better exit in the pack. But the nature of racing in the midfield is that you have to think a little more about who is around you.
Leclerc wouldn’t have needed to be much closer on the approach to the corner to make a legitimate passing attempt on Vettel based on the size of the gap Vettel opened just before he turned in.
Ultimately, both were guilty of the sort of behaviour you wouldn’t see from drivers more familiar with starting races buried in the pack. But Leclerc’s offence was much worse.
FERRARI NEEDS A CHANGE FERRARI NEEDS A CHANGE
|2023 F1 Car Launches|
|Red Bull||RB19||03 February|
|Alfa Romeo||C43||07 February|
|Aston Martin||AMR23||13 February|
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