Sebastian Vettel says the Ferrari Formula 1 team “didn’t write anything in stone” about its team orders policy while discussing its Russian Grand Prix controversy.

Tensions rose at the Scuderia as Vettel failed to stick to a pre-race agreement to switch positions with Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc after the Russian GP polesitter had towed Vettel into an early lead in Sochi.

Leclerc, who went on to finish third behind the Mercedes duo after Vettel retired, insisted Ferrari’s stance on team orders is “clear now” following what he described as a “misunderstanding”.

Addressing the media ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel had his say on the situation, adding: “We spoke about it obviously, more than once.

“We speak with each other. Maybe different to what some people think. But I think it’s pretty clear. We didn’t write anything in stone. I don’t think it’s necessary.

“Probably there’s certain things that we could’ve done better looking back but in the end we look forward to this race and the next races. So not worried too much.”

After a difficult beginning to the start of his Ferrari career, Leclerc has gone on to out-qualify Vettel at the last nine races on the bounce, recording four straight pole positions and two victories to the German’s solitary win in Singapore during that time.

Leclerc’s resurgence has seen him move up to third spot in the championship standings, 21 points clear of Vettel.

Asked if Leclerc’s recent form had influenced his decision to ignore team orders in Sochi, Vettel replied: “No, not at all.

“Obviously I’m not happy if I am slower, whether it’s practice, qualifying or race but that has been the same, not just this year but years before as well.

“There are certain things this year I’ve struggled with here and there with the car which didn’t allow me to extract my best, I don’t think it would have been any different if anyone else was in the car.

“Charles is doing a very good job, but I think it’s largely - and I genuinely believe it’s first a race against yourself and then the others.

“In that regard, I struggled to extract what I know I have in me. On other side, it also very quickly looks different on the outside than it does on the inside.

“There have been races where things didn’t fall into place and therefore things didn’t look great on the outside. But I think we were tackling the right things on the inside. So I’m not worried.”

 

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