Chinese GP: Ferrari ace Sebastian Vettel says he has no issue with Charles Leclerc ignoring team orders in Bahrain

SEBASTIAN VETTEL has denied any ill-feeling towards Charles Leclerc after the youngster ignored team orders in the Bahrain GP.

The Frenchman, 21, was asked to stay behind his Ferrari team-mate after a poor start had seen him slip from pole position to third place early in the race.

 Vettel and Leclerc are preparing for the Chinese GP

AP:Associated Press
2
Vettel and Leclerc are preparing for the Chinese GP

But he chose to surge past his German team-mate on lap five, ignoring direct team orders and since claiming he had a 'pace advantage' over the four-time world champion.

Vettel would go on to finish fifth and made yet another high-profile error, spinning his car with 20 laps to go when grappling with old-foe Lewis Hamilton for second place.

As reported by Sky Sports, Vettel said: "I'm not surprised [Leclerc went past]. It is quite clear that he was quite a lot faster at that point. I could have passed him back on the next straight but I judged it that it's going to lose me more time and him more time.

"It didn't go my way on that Sunday so at that point it wasn't about holding Charles' Sunday back."

The youngster from Monaco dominated the race until engine failure late in the race, which allowed Hamilton to surge through and close an eight-second deficit within three laps.

I'm not surprised [Leclerc went past]. It is quite clear that he was quite a lot faster at that point

Sebastian Vettel

Leclerc explained: "I had the opportunity [to pass Vettel] and I went for it. I think I showed in Australia that the interest of the team is extremely important but in this particular situation I think I had quite a big pace advantage at that moment in the race.

"I had the opportunity on the straight and I didn't see myself lifting and staying behind. I went for the opportunity, it was a safe pass and I went for it.

"From the beginning we both want to beat each other and that's normal in any team."

Vettel had posted the fastest times in pre-season with the new Ferrari, but hasn't yet showed the same speed in competition.

He's hoping to put that right in Shangai, where he last took the chequered flag a decade ago in 2009.

He said: "I wasn't happy with my performance [in Bahrain], not happy with the feeling yet with the car, the feeling that I had prior to the season in testing.

"I know I can do better and I know we have lots of races to show and prove that.

"It's normal that you never get the car that you want so you always have to adapt. Very rarely you get races where the car is absolutely fine and you have nothing to complain about."

 Vettel has denied there is any ill-feeling after his teammate defied team orders

Getty Images – Getty
2
Vettel has denied there is any ill-feeling after his teammate defied team orders

SEBASTIAN VETTEL has denied any ill-feeling towards Charles Leclerc after the youngster ignored team orders in the Bahrain GP.