‘I didn’t hesitate, I just went for it’: Charles Leclerc ignored radio orders not to pass Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel at Bahrain Grand Prix
- Charles Leclerc decided against following orders not to pass Sebastian Vettel
- The 21-year-old was heard on the team radio saying ‘I am quicker’ in the race
- Leclerc eventually decided to overtake his Ferrari team-mate to take the lead
- He looked set to win the race before a mechanical failure cost him crucial power
Charles Leclerc ignored radio orders to stay behind Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel for two laps at the Bahrain Grand Prix, according to reports.
The Monaco-born 21-year-old looked set to become Formula One’s third-youngest winner after a superb drive in the Gulf kingdom.
However, with just 11 laps left of what had already been a dramatic race, Vettel having spun out of contention, Leclerc’s car was struck by a mechanical failure which cost him 30 miles per hour in straight-line speed.
Charles Leclerc ignored team orders not to overtake Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel
Leclerc (right) was adamant he was quicker than Vettel in Bahrain and decided to overtake him
Lewis Hamilton went on to take full advantage to secure a first victory of his championship defence, with Leclerc eventually finishing in third as Valtteri Bottas made it a Mercedes one-two.
Earlier in the race, the Monegasque had moved into the lead ahead of Vettel during lap six, overtaking at the first turn.
However, during the prior circuit radio messages, not broadcast during the race, one of the Ferrari engineers had told Leclerc to ‘stay there for two laps’, despite the driver maintaining: ‘I’m quicker guys’.
Radio messages that were not broadcast during the race appear to show Leclerc’s decision
It is understood that Ferrari wanted to allow Vettel a couple of laps to gain some speed as his tyres were warming up.
Leclerc, though, decided he had found the right moment and place to overtake, with a DRS advantage and a headwind into Turn 1 before then holding the inside line on the next corner, which the team subsequently viewed as a fair manoeuvre.
During the opening race of the 2019 season at the Australian Grand Prix, Leclerc had been told to hold position behind Vettel, a stand which was defended by Ferrari.
Speaking after Sunday’s race in Bahrain, Leclerc reflected on his decision to overtake and had accepted it was ‘always a tricky situation when you get to fight your team-mate because the risks are very high’.
Leclerc told reporters: ‘I had the opportunity on lap five and I didn’t hesitate, I just went for it.
‘I was happy it was successful the first time I tried, especially after the bad start, so yeah, happy with how it ended up.’
The 21-year-old was set for his first race win in Formula One before his car was hit with issues