Dubai: Ferrari lost both on and off the track at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday after controversial team orders damaged their already fragile reputation.
New boy Charles Leclerc was running comfortably in third behind the Mercedes duo in the opening laps when the call came over the radio to let four-time drivers’ champion and teammate Sebastian Vettel pass.
It’s one thing for this to happen with a couple of races remaining when one driver is clearly in a better position to push for the title, but to pull rank as early as Race 3 will only hurt Leclerc’s confidence along with the team’s stature.
No one wants to see a driver gain an advantage when a teammate is told to take his foot off the gas. Ferrari should know better. Let them race, just like Mercedes allow Hamilton and Bottas do, for top honours at the front.
One small victory for Vettel, who finished third to claim his first podium of the season, was his success in holding off the flying Red Bull of Max Verstappen during their mid-race duel.
After a series of errors from the German have cost him dearly over the past two seasons, that tussle will do wonders for his mindset and confidence.