Inflated with winning adrenaline, Sebastian Vettel sent a stark message to the smoldering Charles Leclerc with a warning.
“You’re way off your mark if you ever think you’re bigger than this team,” said Vettel after his resounding success at the Formula 1 race in Singapore – and there was little doubt that the addressee of his words was sitting right next to him. His rival, Leclerc, who was severely offended only achieving second place, had long since jeopardised the peace at Ferrari. The duel between the drivers for the supremacy in the Scuderia threatens to escalate in the final sprint of the season.
Leclerc struggled to keep up the beautiful glow in front of the Ferrari garage shortly before midnight and managed to barely smile. As soon as the photographers lowered their cameras, the Monegasque hurried away, feeling betrayed by the Ferrari strategists who had guided Vettel to change tyres and thus to victory, the 21-year-old demanded a discussion: “I still need a few explanations as to why this decision was made.
Just getting back in line behind four-time World Champion Vettel is not reconcilable with Leclerc’s burning ambition. With two previous victories in Spa and Monza and the brilliant drive to pole position in Singapore, the new ‘boy wonder’ had seemingly erased Vettel’s number one status. But the sweet farewells to Vettel after more than a year without success were apparently premature, whose somewhat happy resurrection is clearly difficult for Leclerc to swallow.
“Of course Charles is disappointed,” said team manager Mattia Binotto. He even admitted during the race to giving in to the nagging Leclerc’s desire to swap places. “We’re still discussing with our drivers whether we made the right choice or not. There could be different opinions on this internally,” Binotto said diplomatically. Now more than ever, the 49-year-old should be called upon to mediate. A real test and one this Judge feels Binotto will likely fail at.
Because for Vettel and Leclerc, the remaining six rounds of the season are also about positioning themselves for next year as the leaders of the team. Although the title has almost certainly been awarded to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton again this year, the three victories since the summer break have raised new hopes for the Scuderia.
“I’ve been with Ferrari for a while now, and we won’t really be back until we win the title,” said Vettel.
The only question is whether the momentum of his fifth victory on his favourite track at Marina Bay is strong enough in the long run. Vettel’s performance on Sunday was as flawless as at best times, but he also needed the unplanned help of the tacticians. Leclerc let Vettel know before the journey to the race in Sochi on Sunday that it should only be a one off.
“I will come back stronger in Russia,” the young star assured with a threatening undertone.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in for a treat.
Watch: Giovinazzi nearly clips marshalls working on track
Stewards deemed it a dangerous scene in Singapore – Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi gets too close to a recovery crane during a safety car phase on lap 37, rescuing George Russell’s car at turn eight.
After an accident between Grosjean and Russell, the young Williams driver crashes into the barrier through no fault of his own. A safety car called, the marshalls working on track with a recovery crane.
The Italian rounds the corner to find the crane on track, turning right the driver avoids it but is travelling at a speed deemed too dangerous and has……. READ MORE