Ferrari Formula 1 chief Mattia Binotto has explained the decision not to bring Charles Leclerc in for a late pit stop in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix to try and pick up an extra point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

Despite a promising showing in pre-season testing, Ferrari failed to contend for victory in the Melbourne season-opener as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished fourth and fifth respectively, almost a minute behind race winner Valtteri Bottas.

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Running fifth, Leclerc entered the closing stages of the race far enough ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen in P6 that he could have made a pit stop without losing a position, giving him the opportunity to fit a set of Soft tyres and try to set the fastest lap of the race on low fuel. For 2019, the fastest lap carries an additional bonus point in the drivers' and constructors' championships.

Ferrari opted against pitting Leclerc, instead leaving him to finish fifth close behind Vettel, with team boss Binotto explaining after the race that he did not want to take any extra risk.

"We had the window to pit Charles for new tyres and go for the fastest lap, but I think as I said, whenever you pit, it may be a risk," Binotto said.

"I think it was more important for us to bring the car home and score the points. There are sometimes races where you are not the best but it is still important to score points, and at the end, that was our choice.

"We will eventually review the decision, but the decision was for that reason."

Ferrari also gave Leclerc the order to hold position behind Vettel despite being faster in the closing stages of the race, having made up a 12-second gap.

"When Seb pitted and put the Medium tyres, he didn’t start with the grip that he was expecting, and he was attacked by [Max] Verstappen, we decided to hold his position on the track," Binotto said.

"We decided to bring the car home. He was managing the tyres until the end, and I think 10 laps to the end, we decided not to take any risks and hold positions, and bring the cars home scoring points."

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato.



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