Vettel or Leclerc: who leads Ferrari’s error chart?

We’re all just about catching our breath again after what morphed into a Brazilian Grand Prix for the ages.

Max Verstappen’s road to redemption after the events of 2018 was completed with a flawless drive to victory, but behind him all hell broke loose.

Our readers have been running the numbers on Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc after the Ferrari pair eliminated each other from the race. It was the latest controversy for this duo in 2019, but which of them has actually cost the team more this season?

It was the Safety Car to cover Valtteri Bottas’ retirement which sparked the chaos in the first place, but did the FIA actually dispatch it for that purpose, rather than in the interest of safety?

You can join the discussion over on the PlanetF1 forum here or head to the comments section down below…

Sebastian Vettel vs Charles Leclerc: 2019’s errors in numbers

2019 has been a strange year for Ferrari. The team that have traditionally had a championship challenger and a rear gunner have had two genuine title contenders (setting aside relative car pace) this year. And of the 20 races so far run, Vettel – a four time champion, with more than a decade of experience under his belt – has beaten Leclerc – a rookie with just one year’s experience, in a Sauber of all things – in just 11 of those 20 races.

Granted, that is a (slim) majority. But let’s look at this in more detail, focusing not so much on the successes but the major errors made by each driver.

In Australia, the team did realistically all they could. A 4-5 finish, favouring Seb, made total sense.

Bahrain rocked the form book. Badly. Leclerc was dominant. If not for his mechanical woes, he would have taken a convincing win in only his second start for Ferrari. That contrasted sharply with Vettel, who couldn’t seem to avoid his tail-happy Ferrari’s desire to take up ballet lessons. Echoes of Massa at Silverstone in 2008, but without the rain. First major point against Vettel.

China was another quiet affair, a 3-5 result in favour of Vettel. Honestly, all I can really remember of that race now is the fastest lap for Gasly. Azerbaijan was another 3-5 to Vettel, again without much to report, and the same again with Spain’s 4-5. Bahrain was starting to look like a flash in the pan at this point.

Monaco. This offers Vettel a reprieve, with Leclerc’s impatience ruining his race. So that’s now one point apiece.

Canada, on paper, goes in Vettel’s favour. But there’s the small matter of nearly putting Hamilton in the wall after cutting the chicane. Despite the double podium, Vettel’s actions there score him a second point. The equality is gone again.

France. This was the start of a short period of domination by Leclerc over Vettel, but there’s no glaring error here to call out for either driver.

Austria. Leclerc should have won this one as well, which would bring Ferrari to a theoretical three wins, but in the end Verstappen used his experience and knowledge of just how far he could push the stewards (and the Ferrari) without a penalty to his advantage. And Leclerc chalked it up as a lesson learned. We’ll revisit this point later.

Silverstone was a terrible day for Vettel. He’d been outqualified already, pretty convincingly, and had to fight his way through. In the end, all he could do was ram Verstappen and basically end both drivers’ chances of a podium. Max was lucky he could limp to 5th. Leclerc ended up on the podium, while Vettel followed the Williams cars home, with only himself to blame. The score stands at 3-1.

Germany highlighted a major flaw in Leclerc’s skillset, which we saw last year at the same race. Wet driving isn’t his strength. Seb made the podium, and Leclerc ended up in the wall. 3-2.

Hungary was a bit of a non-event for Ferrari, distantly following home Verstappen and a truly on form Hamilton.

Belgium was the first time either driver actually managed to put a mark in the win column, rather than just the “should have been” column. Leclerc dominated the weekend, although there’s nothing to mark against Vettel here. Nonetheless, it had to hurt that Leclerc legitimately beat him to the first Ferrari win of the year.

If Belgium was painful, Italy was just kicking a man while he was down. Leclerc pulled off a Ferrari win on Italian soil, complete with a few moves learned from Max in Austria. The Tifosi were elated. And what of Vettel? An unforced spin. A needless ram of Stroll. And 13th place. 4-2.

Singapore is a difficult one. Neither driver made a mistake, but most would argue that Leclerc was robbed of a 3rd straight win. But there’s no points to be given here, so let’s move on.

Russia. Vettel’s petulance, prior to his engine failure, isn’t the worst thing listed here. That said, it added unnecessarily to the discord in the team. 5-2, if only because as team leader (at least, in theory) he should be bringing the team together, a la Schumacher (I know, I know…), rather than causing further tensions.

Japan was a bit of a non-event for Leclerc but there was nothing obviously wrong with his performance, other than Vettel simply beating him. The same is also true in Mexico.

America. Some blame Vettel for his suspension failure, some don’t. I’ll be charitable here and say that without complete consensus, no point awarded. The way Leclerc’s suspension obliterated itself after only a light touch in Brazil helps his case too.

Which of course brings us to today. The Brazilian Grand Prix. Every single person who discussed this incident (save one) agreed that Vettel was either almost wholly, or wholly to blame for the double DNF. And the footage certainly supports that.

So that’s 6-2 against Vettel. Leclerc, the relative rookie, has only a third of that number. He also has double the number of wins, and also of potential wins, compared to the 4-time WDC.

What, if any, future does Seb have in the sport? Does anyone expect another Ferrari contract to come his way? And if not, what’s his next move?


Can Carlos Sainz take an upset P6 in the Drivers’ Championship?

Congrats to Carlos Jr. for a well earned podium even if he didn’t get to celebrate it from there.

That was a great drive from the very back of the grid. Yes, he had some help from retirements and a few things falling his way but he did do what he needed to.

I am hoping that Carlos can start to make a few more trips to the podium and to earn some by outperforming drivers from the top three teams.

At 92 points on the season Carlos is only 3 points adrift from Pierre Gasly. Looks like that will be the battle for the 2019 “Best of the Rest”.

Mort Canard

Brazil was Max Verstappen’s best performance of 2019

What an exciting race! Honestly this season has had about 6-7 extremely entertaining races.

Tremendous performance by Max. Absolutely brilliant all weekend. Dominant form in qualifying and he was perfect in the race. He made the crucial move on Hamilton after that first undercut and that, for me, was the win decided. The pass at the end was a foregone conclusion but Max really didn’t put a wheel wrong all day. Best overall weekend of the year for him IMO.

I have to scratch my head at Mercedes pitting Hamilton at the end of the race. I don’t see what they had to gain there. He was not going to be able to catch Max with so few laps remaining and I think they pretty much threw away 2nd there. The drag to the line between Hamilton and Gasly was exciting and also telling.

Mercedes were down on power here but their tire life gave Hamilton a chance today. As I already mentioned, the critical part of the race was that first stop and Hamilton being held up by Leclerc (followed by Max basically being waved through by Leclerc). With Max able to make the pass on his outlap, Mercedes missed their chance at the win right there.

Difficult day for Bottas, who also suffered with the lack of speed in a straight line. He just couldn’t get past Charles there and that ruined his race.

Ferrari were fairly competitive today. Shame about the end and I have to put most of the blame on Vettel there. He moved over in a way that reminded me of Turkey back in 2010. Yet another example of Sebastian’s spacial awareness letting him down.

Gutted for Albon but I don’t think that’s a penalty for Hamilton. Albon left the door wide open and, having done so, he needed to leave a car’s width on the inside there instead of turning all the way in. It’s a shame but I think it has to go down as a racing incident.

Congrqts to Gasly! What a day for him! He accomplishes something that he never managed during his entire time at RBR. The guy clearly has talent. I can’t figure out what went wrong with him this year. Maybe it’s about the pressure or maybe it’s something that we just don’t have visibility to but he is performing now that he’s back with Toro Rosso.


Did the FIA use the Safety Car to artificially improve the Brazilian GP?

Why the hell did this race have an SC for the Bottas blow up?

It is a joke the way that race control like to manipulate races and turn dry races into wet race lotteries like this.

The VSC should be used unless there is no other alternative but to SC the race as a last resort. What is the point of the VSC when it hardly gets used, and of course rules are deliberately not put in place to force race control to be consistent with the usage of VSC’s and SC’s.

VB’s car was clear within about 10 seconds of the SC being called out, what a farce.

Please stop trying to spice races up in an artificial way.

F1 Racer

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Mercedes have long habit not listening to Hamilton

It was a tale of two strategies in Singapore. Ferrari’s controversial plan gave them a 1-2 but Mercedes got it all wrong with Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton made it clear that he wanted to try the undercut, rather than extend his first stint, and one reader points out it is not the first time Mercedes have not listened to him.

Plus, was Sebastian Vettel ‘owed’ a victory after Canada and should Charles Leclerc be ‘livid’ with Ferrari after victory was taken away from him by a Vettel undercut.

You can join the discussion over on the PlanetF1 forum here or head to the comments section down below…


It’s been a long time coming for Vettel and while he benefitted from the fortune of a bad strategy call for Leclerc, he is owed a win for Canada. I can kinda understand them going for a 1-2 seeing as there is no prospect of a driver’s title.

The Mercedes strategy was odd. I guess they were hoping for a safety car but I can’t really understand leaving Hamilton out for that long and then just putting the Hard tyre on. The mediums must have been worth a gamble especially as they had Bottas rear gunning anyway.

The other thing I don’t get is the failure of Red Bull to try and use Albon for either an aggresive undercut to try and force something up front, or just have him stay out to compromise Ferrari’s strategy.


Proved the doubters wrong

Solid race for Ferrari – questions about that Vettel undercut – but ultimately without it, I doubt they would have got a 1-2. Once Merc were in 3rd place effectively in the pitstop rotation they threw a hail mary by keeping Hamilton out longer. If they kept him out another 5 or 6 laps even though he would have lost lap time a safety car could have still salvaged a podium. Oh well.

Great to see Vettel prove all the doubters and tombstone writers wrong! He’s got some years in him yet and is 10X better than Raikkonen. Ferrari has the strongest driver pairing at the moment. Bottas is…Bottas. And Albon will take some time to marinate.


Livid Leclerc…

It’s always rough watching a race where you really know that overtaking is just not possible among the top cars. This was a strategy race and Sebastian is the only guy who got the best strategy (the undercut).

Max benefited as well but what a poor showing by the Mercedes pit-wall. I really thought Hamilton should have been the guy to go for the undercut because there was no way that anyone was overtaking a Ferrari on this narrow track.

I suppose Merc would have looked like geniuses had there been a safety car earlier in the race and you assume that the pit stops would be the likely time where a safety car would be triggered but Merc came up empty-handed on strategy today.

This is the type of race where it really sinks in how difficult overtaking can be at some circuits in modern F1. Almost fell asleep.

On a side note; Charles should be absolutely livid. Why is it that Ferrari consistently give Vettel the undercut? It’s got to be infuriating at this point as Charles has clearly been performing better.


Team orders? What team orders?

Some real over-reactions to the Mercedes “team orders” here. Bottas had no right to be jumping Hamilton, he only had the opportunity to do so because the team were taking a gamble on Hamilton’s strategy as it was their only opportunity to win the race.

It was just Mercedes trying to maximise the team’s result, something they have always done, and ensuring Hamilton wasn’t screwed over when the gamble didn’t pay off.

No unfair treatment of Bottas today, no number two status. Just the team being fair to Hamilton. Mercedes could have just pitted Hamilton first as convention dictates when he is the lead car, and settled for second. Bottas still would’ve been 5th.

j man

Strategy an obvious weakness

Hamilton also wanted to use the hard tyres at Monza but was told they were too slow, these being the hard tyres that Leclerc managed to win the race with.

It was Hamilton’s decision to change from a 2 stop to a 1 stop strategy at Silverstone after being told the strategy wouldn’t work.

I count 5 times this year were they got the strategy wrong nearly costing them 2 wins and I would say possibly costing them 3 wins the other times.

If there is a 3 way dog fight next year the Mercedes strategy team for me is an obvious weakness in an otherwise excellent operation.


Not listening

Mercedes has a long habit of not listening to Hamilton when it comes to strategy. With that said, I think a lot of other teams are just as bad in this respect. They definitely should have tried the undercut (nothing to lose by doing it) and popped on mediums imho.

I do suspect that the ambient and track temperature didn’t help Mercedes at all (30 degrees ambient) and they had to back off on the engine settings to preserve them. Mercedes had the slowest speed trap speeds of any Mercedes powered car (at least, from the speed traps that I saw).


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Hamilton whinges reminiscent of Fry and Laurie sketch

Some think it is a case of when rather if Lewis Hamilton’s breaks Michael Schumacher’s remaining records. His radio whinges are also on the agenda.

Plus the consistency of penalties from the FIA and the Monaco layout also come under scrutiny.

Join the discussion over on the PlanetF1 forum here or head to the comments section down below…

Pathetic penalties

I just can not understand the weak 5 second penalty for Verstappen after that release. Nothing against Verstappen, but that forced Bottas damage and he had to pit again.
He already lost 1 place due to an unsafe release and another for having to box due to damage (caused by the unsafe release!?)

In the past, even when there was no contact when drivers had an unsafe release, the penalty was huge. It seems pathetic that Giovinazzi got a bigger penalty for what he did than this.

This was very unfortunate for Bottas. He looked very solid this weekend and until Red Bull messed up his race, Mercedes were certainly going to get a 1 -2 finish.


What do we do about Monaco?

Seb ends 1-2 streak; all guts no glory for Leclerc.

Yeah Monaco has its detractors, but… track position is so important, so…. do better on the Saturday.

I wouldn’t want to see a season of Monaco’s, but likewise it presents a different challenge and one of the few races that can cause an upset still with a bit of luck and safety cars.

That said I still think they could open the track up a bit in at least one place, just to give a chance. There is room to an alterative option from the Chicane pretty much right up to Rascasse.

Yeah might need a bit of creative engineering or removal of some of the waterfront structures, but it is possible to engineer a better overtaking chance.


Not everyone found it tense

Boring race as expected. I think the most annoying part is the driver at lead can crawl to the victory and rest can’t do anything about it as there is barely space for 2 cars. Same for the midfield battle. Ricciardo and KMag got behind and were stuck in traffic. Sainz got lucky and STR simply followed him all race.

Hamilton moaning was very annoying. Wish Mercedes had asked him to pit. It would be slightly more interesting race as Max would at least had a go and build 5+secs gap and rest had to respond rather than just counting laps.


A little bit of Fry and Laurie

Does anyone else get fed up with Hamilton’s constant whining on the radio? I got to the point where I muted the tv every time I saw his radio comms were about to come up.

I’m convinced by the amount of times he bangs on, that he does it as a ploy to try and bluff other drivers. It’s not just Monaco, it seems like it’s every race I’m watching, he’s banging on about the tires going.

It reminded me of this sketch…

Charles LeBrad

I’ll bite.

I think the whining on the radio is a combination of things. One – FOM driving a storyline and constantly airing those radio calls, and two – hamilton playing expectations management with the public at large and himself. He’s basically saying “look World – my team messed up and I might not win this race as a result.”

He’s also creating a positive feedback loop with the team that forces them to make better calls so in a sense – his whinging on the radio is him trying to get the team to step their game up.

If you don’t want me whinging stop making dumb calls. So far it has seemed to work. It is annoying to listen to but I think all drivers do it. In Monaco it was amplified by the commentary team and the race director.


A case of when rather than if?

So a little breathing room in the championship now for Lewis and you get the sense that he’s going to start to pull away from Valtteri now. It’s interesting to note that this is win number 77 for Lewis. He’s getting up there now and I do think that he will have a very high total this year in the win column.

We’ve just about transitioned from “if” to “when” when it comes to the question of topping Schumacher’s record win total. It’s looking 85-90% certain that Hamilton will get to 92 wins now. It will almost certainly happen next season.

The championships are a different story. You never know what will happen year on year with regards to that and any title shot could be your last. I think he’s in good shape this year though. Bottas has been very strong so far this season but I’ll need to see him challenge Lewis for a full season before a believe it.

Mercedes have regained their position as outright best car in the field and their operations staff have been very solid for the most part. Okay they got it wrong today but they haven’t made a meal of things the way Ferrari have this season.

Only Red Bull are stronger operationally during the races and they don’t have the car to match Mercedes most of the time. I expect that to change as the season presses on and I expect Red Bull to surpass Ferrari this year and be a very serious threat in 2020. They are in the ascendancy IMO and Hamilton will have to watch over his shoulder for Max more frequently moving forward.


I’m not sure I agree it’s that certain. His win rate in the hybrid era is 51.9% – that means he should win 8 more races this season (the second highest ever in a season) – that puts him on 85 wins.

He would then need to win at least 7 next season – and that will only happen if Mercedes produce the best car again. Yes, they are most likely to, but it’s far from a certainty, especially as Red Bull will be in the second year with Honda, and the Honda engine will be closer in performance to the Merc.

While it’s highly unlikely he won’t win races in 2020, if it does turn out Mercedes are no longer the dominant team, I can see him walking at the end of 2020, whether or not he wins the championship. At the end of this season he’ll be the same age Schumacher was after winning his 7th WDC.

If he was a record chaser, then I could see him staying just to get his name listed above Schumacher, but he’s always said he doesn’t care about that, and I do think he’s keen to have a post F1 career doing other things and once he’s just making up the number in F1, there will be no reason for him to stay.


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