Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s stance on team orders is “clear now” following a “misunderstanding” at Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix, insisting all is well within the team.

Leclerc was left frustrated in Sochi after teammate Sebastian Vettel failed to obey a pre-race agreement to swap positions after Leclerc, who started on pole, had towed the German into the lead on the run to Turn 2.

Vettel ultimately retired from the race with an MGU-K failure shortly after re-emerging behind Leclerc following the pit stop window, while Leclerc went on to finish third after a Virtual Safety Car period - deployed for Vettel’s on-track stoppage - enabled Mercedes to claim an unlikely 1-2.

“There was some misunderstanding from the car but I think we’ve had a discussion and everything is clear now,” Leclerc said ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

“Obviously it felt like it was a huge deal from the outside, which it definitely wasn’t but now everything is fine.

“I think it’s clear from the beginning of the season that we need to obey team orders, and what is clear is that the situation wasn’t clear for both of the drivers at the start of the race.

“That is the most important thing and we will make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again in the future.”

Asked if he had discussed the incident directly with Vettel following the weekend, Leclerc replied: “No, unfortunately I had some things happening on the day he was in Maranello so we didn’t have the chance to talk together.

“But I had a meeting with [Ferrari team principal] Mattia [Binotto] and he had one with Seb the day earlier and everything is fine.”

Leclerc is the form driver heading to Japan having claimed two victories and four pole positions across the past four races since F1’s summer break, and the Monegasque remains confident that Ferrari’s recent resurgence can continue at Suzuka.

“It’s been working pretty well since we came back from the holidays,” he explained. "The car feels great, we’ve had four poles in a row, which is always nice.

“The last two races have been a bit, not what I expected but the performance is there which I think is the most important [thing], and there are no reasons for us not to be competitive this weekend - so we will see how it goes.

“We will focus on the Friday especially, Saturday seems to be very tricky, if not impossible to drive, so Friday will be very important and then I hope that we can have a very positive Sunday.”

 

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