Charles Leclerc says he has “absolutely no problems” with Ferrari’s team orders and tyre strategy picks which left him an underwhelming fifth place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old almost came off worst in the opening lap fights as he took avoiding action from teammate Sebastian Vettel to hold on to fifth place, before rapidly gaining on the German who had flat spotted his tyres locking up into the first corner.

After a number of laps stuck behind his Ferrari teammate, Leclerc was given the call to overtake Vettel to start his pursuit of Max Verstappen in the Red Bull who had pulled out vital time ahead in third place.

Later on in the race Leclerc was pitted for hard tyres, with Ferrari looking to push the one-stop strategy with the Monegasque driver, but with his pace dropping compared to Vettel on the mediums he then had to concede his position back to the German.

Despite a late safety car intervention, with Leclerc switching to a two-stopper with new mediums, he couldn’t attack late on and had to settle for fifth place behind Vettel.

While Ferrari came under scrutiny for its latest calls on team orders and tyre strategy, Leclerc feels his team made the best of the situation after losing out to Verstappen at the start and was confident his one-stop strategy would have paid off without the safety car which allowed his rivals to gain time in their second stops.

“For now in this race I think there was absolutely no problems for me,” Leclerc said. “Obviously in the first stint I was quicker but it is always difficult when there is a driver behind that tells you he is quicker. You always want to be ahead.

“Again after that they let me past and I could make my race and after that we swapped again when I was struggling.

“I don’t think it was a bad call as we wanted to get to the end of the race with them [the hard tyres] but unfortunately we didn’t make them work as expected.

“We were struggling quite a lot with the rears on my side and I lost a little bit of time. It was the same on the mediums to be honest so we need to look into that. I think we would have stopped again.

“Anyway, I think all of the people in front that were on mediums, at least the Red Bull and Seb, we expected them to stop again so that’s why we put the hard on.”

Leclerc’s tough start to his maiden year at Ferrari continues with his fourth fifth-place finish of 2019, with his only other result being third place at the Bahrain Grand Prix when he suffered a late engine issue while leading the race. The result duly leaves Leclerc in fifth place in the F1 standings as Verstappen moves ahead of both Ferrari drivers into third place in the drivers’ championship.

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