Vettel vs. Leclerc – Does Ferrari Mismanage the Rivalry?

Vettel Leclerc 2019

The Italian press is merciless. After five Ferrari defeats in a row, the hunt is on for the Scuderia.

“Ferrari crashes into a real crisis,” wrote Gazetta dello Sport. Corriere dello Sport wasn’t any less dramatic: “Ferrari is getting worse! There are simply no excuses.”

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Also, the call for giving Charles Leclerc the #1 status has long been debated in the Italian press. Tuttosport recommends after the “red disaster”: “Ferrari has only one option left, namely to put everything on the young Leclerc. Hamilton’s true opponent is no longer Vettel, but Bottas. Mercedes is strong enough to afford an internal rivalry among their pilots.”

Last but not least, Corriere della Sera crowns the Italian rant: “Ferrari’s problems are more serious than those of the four-time world-champion Vettel, who is in a deep identity crisis.”

That’s heavy! No team boss and no driver is immune to such harsh criticism. But is the ever-emotional Italian press right? Is Ferrari its own worst enemy?

Verzettelt sich Ferrari im Teamduell?

The call for a number one status for Charles Leclerc is already here. Credit: Ferrari

We have to acknowledge that in almost every race Ferrari used teamorders – the last time in Barcelona at the Spanish GP. In doing so, Ferrari’s command post responded twice too late. At first, Leclerc lost time behind Vettel who was struggling with vibrations. Later, the German lost valuable time behind Leclerc, who was on hard tires and on a different strategy. The speed difference was so obvious that it almost came to a rear-end collision.

TV expert Martin Brundle: “They sabotage themselves – they focus on each other instead of their rivals. Also, the position swaps came a few laps too late. So they lost time, and they just can’t afford to lose even one-tenth of a second.”

Interesting to observe during both maneuvers: While Vettel gave plenty of room, Leclerc didn’t reciprocate. In Bahrain, he didn’t wait for the two laps, during which his command post had asked him to wait to process simulations. And then in Spain, where it was obvious that he was reluctant to make room.

There is simply no other way to explain the almost collision between Leclerc and Vettel despite completely different strategies:

Leclerc thinks of himself, Vettel for his team.

The German: “It makes no sense if we stand in each other’s way.” But instead of praise for the team player, there is only criticism from Italy.

*This article was first published in German at


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