Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto faced the press after the race, and was asked to address the pre-determined ploy to get both Ferraris ahead of the race at the start, which inevitably let to drama as the race went on.
Binotto stated that the start went according to plan, with Leclerc giving the tow to Vettel in order to achieve a Ferrari 1-2 in the first lap. Then, Vettel displayed some serious pace compared to his teammate, therefore it turned out to be best if they waited before swapping positions.
“Looking at the past races, especially Russia, it’s important to be ahead at the start. Normally if you start first, you may finish first and as a team the victory was key so we decided that it was important for us to be 1st and 2nd at the end of the first lap. Ferrari 1-2 was the key objective, we agreed that it was best not to give Hamilton any slipstream at first and therefore that Charles gave the slipstream to Seb. That was what we agreed and discussed about."
"Our judgement was that the start went as planned. Seb was asked to give the position back but fair enough to say that Charles was maybe not close enough and he would have lost some time on the track, and later on Seb was quite fast and gained some track advantage on Charles."
Charles Leclerc then stopped first and gained the position on Vettel again, but Binotto preferred to clarify the reason why the stop happened in that very moment and denied it was to hand the position back.
"The undercut was not for the reason of giving the position back to Charles, but he stopped because his left rear was starting to be worn out, so it was the right moment for him to pit. We tried to stay out as much as we could with Seb simply to protect in case of Safety Car, and then Seb’s tyres as well started to be worn out, he called it, he pitted and it was the right time to pit.”
As for Vettel's MGU-K failure, Binotto gave a further explanation over the matter and also outlined that the German is unlikely to face a penalty in Japan, as there is one more piece available without incurring into a penalty.
“We got the problem on the hybrid side of the power unit, we had a loss of insulation. For safety reasons we called to stop immediately, it was a shame because 900m later there was the pitlane but it was the safest thing we could do.”