Sebastian Vettel did not mince his words, as he accused the media of distorting his words concerning the team order that drove him to his first podium in 2019. It is safe to say that the German did not earn his podium finish by scratching and clawing in the race, as the strategy from the pitwall gave him a massive helping hand.
Although Vettel was the author of an overall stronger display than Leclerc’s, they were lapping on pretty much the same laptimes throughout the race in Shanghai. In the initial stage, Ferrari decided to let Sebastian through, as Charles Leclerc, who had overtaken him at the start, could not keep up with Mercedes at the front and could not get away from Vettel either. A number of team radio messages from Leclerc followed, as the Monegasque felt Vettel was not able to get the job done, which made the team order look pointless to the public eye. In the end, we are only three races in and the whole ‘Vettel-Leclerc management as a pairing’ issue has been taken way too seriously, up to the point that a team order after 1/5 of the race left everyone flabbergasted.
Ferrari seems too focused on preventing clashes between Vettel and Leclerc (possibly a combustible duo) from happening rather than delivering on a solid basis, and this may actually create unwanted situations.
Vettel apparently decided to skate over the matter in the post-race media sessions and took the chance to slam the media for enhancing or simply re-translating his words into something his speech did not resonate with. "It was clear to me as soon as it happened that I had to answer these questions. I'm not sure I want to answer them, because I do not like the way you work, you misdirect the answers and put them in the wrong light."
What happened in Bahrain, as Leclerc utterly dominated the weekend, set the perfect example for Vettel to describe this sort of misleading tendency from the journalists. “Two weeks ago” he said “Charles was faster. Overtaking in Bahrain was maybe a bit easier. But what really annoys us after this race is that we did not finish third and fourth. Of course I want to be in front of Charles, and he wants to be in front of me. I do not want to say much more. Because I do not know what you will do with my answer. "
It turned out that the four-time champion was against "bad journalism” and he added “But I'm not a journalist to judge that, so you should not take that personally."
It is normal for the media to picture a driver as the ‘bad guy’ over another, and it is even more likely for us to talk about a driver’s mistakes. The alert coincides with ‘something is wrong’ and we obviously have the urge to find out where it comes from. Therefore, it is natural for a driver to be asked that kind of questions, regardless of how the headline might be distorted, which does not alter the on-track results at all.
In the end, we are just seeking the truth and it is our job to take it to the next level, as the ‘bad journalism’ label can be subjective at times.
As he got closer to a proper answer, although he dodged the point, he said: “The team always has priority, Charles knows that, I know that.”
“We drive for the team on the one hand and on the other hand we also drive our own race", explained Vettel. "Such things are never pleasant, but as you shout into the woods, so it echoes back out, and only time will tell if we did it right today or not."
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