Sebastian Vettel insists everyone at Ferrari is “on the same page” regarding its early stance on team orders during the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Ferrari has imposed team orders on its drivers at each of the opening three races of the campaign, telling Charles Leclerc twice to hold station behind Vettel in Australia and Bahrain, before instructing its new signing to allow Vettel past in China.

In Shanghai, team principal Mattia Binotto reiterated that Ferrari would back Vettel in any “50-50” situations when needed, but the four-time world champion stressed the Italian squad’s priority lies with maximising the team result rather than for an individual driver.

“Obviously we try to maximise points and that’s our first priority,” Vettel said.

“I think it’s normal that you try to do everything to perform well and I think everybody else is on the same page.

“I understand that people are talking about the decisions we’ve made here and there but you know, it will be impossible to know now where we will be in a couple of months’ time or in half a years’ time, but the answer I think only time will be able to tell.

“So we’ll see, but certainly from the team’s point of view we try to maximise the points and I felt I was faster in China in the opening stint, unfortunately we couldn’t chase down the Mercedes, for both of us, and they grabbed the win and the 1-2.

“That’s been the target, the ambition and I’m sure that if we continue working hard we will get there.”

Vettel felt Ferrari had done its best to allow both drivers to race each other freely before making the call with the Mercedes duo beginning to open up a comfortable lead out front.

“Well I mean that’s what we are effectively [trying to do],” the German explained.

“Obviously at that point it was looking like I could go faster, I don’t think it’s worth going into details because we’ve all been there, and we’re not in China now, we’re in Baku and we focus on going forward.

“I think again, from the outside, and after the race, it’s always easier than when you’re in the race. After the race you can have possibly the whole paddock being able to sit on the pitwall during the race and I don’t see that much courage to jump and make that decision.”

Leclerc appeared frustrated by the decision during the race but later said he had accepted and understood Ferrari’s reasoning.

Asked if he is expecting further use of team orders, Leclerc added: “I don’t know, I think this question has to be asked more to Mattia than myself. At the end, he is making the decision and not me.

“He is taking the decision on the pitwall. At the end they have a lot more data on the pitwall than I do in the car. We’ll see in the future.

“I work on the driving side as much as I can and like I always did to be in the best shape possible in the key moment of the weekend, and then I accept the decisions but I’m trying to do the best job possible in the car.

“Obviously there will always be team orders in Formula 1. But it depends on the situation. In some situations I will [accept them].”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.



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