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By Jolyon Palmer
Former Renault driver and BBC Radio 5 Live commentator
Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault is part of the BBC staff and provides insight and analysis.
Deliciously ironic was Mercedes technical director James Allison described Lewis Hamiltons victory from the Russian Grand Prixand after the race fell apart for Ferrari.
And the irony drops in two ways.
Sebastian Vettel disobeyed team orders to put himself in with a chance of winning the race – before Ferrari intervened in the pit stops – and then retired.
And after Ferrari did whatever they could to orchestrate a one-two conclusion by imposing those groups orders at the first location, the retirement of Vettel cost them the race.
The prix itself wasnt the greatest in terms of action and enthusiasm, but it raised several queries regarding Ferrari and how they manage their drivers in the future.
Ferrari went into the race in Sochi with a strategy that they thought was the perfect method to ensure another one-two in every week, later Vettel led residence team-mate Charles Leclerc in Singapore, however, it was complicated, and dropped as a result of Vettel taking things into his own hands.
With Leclerc in third on rod and Vettel – and Lewis Hamiltons Mercedes in between – Ferrari came up with an idea to ensure their automobiles led round the opening lap.
They utilized Leclerc to give a slipstream into Vettel on the Future down to Switch Two, the corner, in a bid to get the last Hamilton.
The thought was that Leclerc would not shield against Vettel to offer the best possibility of passing Hamilton to him, and then Vettel will hand the return into Leclerc.
It worked – but immediately led to difficulties, when Vettel denied to give back the guide. Why Ferrari needed to make things you need to wonder.
In fact, passing Hamilton at the start was not very likely to be hard for Vettel, whose Ferrari had the cleaner, grippier side of the trail, milder, grippier tyres and plenty of extra straight-line speed in comparison to the Mercedes.
The fact that the McLaren of Carlos Sainz was before Hamilton into Turn Twowas evidence of this.
One can understand the want to leave no rock unturned, because the slipstream down to Switch Two of Ferrari is they lost the race . Two decades back, Mercedes Valtteri Bottas began third, with Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari motorists Vettel locking from the front row, but Bottas slipstreamed beyond both automobiles and went on to triumph.
It was fine to have Leclerc grip his line for some time to guarantee Vettel drifted beyond Hamilton, however, the problems started without giving Leclerc the chance to then proceed into the interior and obviously defend his guide.
That overcomplicated things in an attempt to pay all angles off and created the situation embarrassing for Ferrari.
Had Leclerc remained to the left , and then moved into the right to defend the inside in Turn 2, he was likely to have kept the lead although Vettel had a very substantial overlap.
By allowing Vettel into the direct, Ferrari was compelled into using another time to team requests, and that has been the time that was shown to be more challenging.
Leclerc kept to his side of the deal, however, Vettel refused to let his team-mate retake the lead.
Vettel contended two things: which he would have experienced the place given his slipstream; and that Leclerc had to get to make the move.
Lets consider these one at one time.
Firstly, would Vettel and Leclerc have passed to the corner if Leclerc had defended?
As they hit the brakes for Turn Two, he was indeed a way ahead of his team-mate, just he likely wouldnt have held .
Was it honest for Vettel to ask Ferrari to inquire Leclerc for closer before he handed the lead back?
Leclerc might be trying hard to get closer due to the air, and was one minute back when this was asked by Vettel.
Vettel knew going into the race that he was sure to pass Hamilton in the beginning but he understood that he wouldnt be allowed to keep position. The bargain was Leclerc on the grounds that he could receive the location back.
If Vettel desired to get a struggle down to Switch Two, or disagreed with the idea of giving back the place into Leclerc, he must have uttered that in the morning assembly when Ferrari decided theyd orchestrate the start.
It was too late for Vettel to get any complaints When the agreement was in place.
The defiance of vettel does raise question marks about both Ferrari drivers working connection.
This has been a fragile situation all year. Leclerc has talent and has begun to prove himself to be the quicker of the two although vettel sees himself.
Tensions got two races since in qualifying, Leclerc failed to stick with his aspect of a bargain. He was given a tow supporting Vettel on the of final qualifying, was due to return the favour in the long run, but – while sitting provisional pole – didnt.
Back in Singapore, Vettel struck back with a triumph – win but Leclerc was miserable because he had been top only for Ferraris choice to pit Vettel first resulting in him ending up before his team-mate. Was this a violation of protocol in teams, but Ferrari also did not tell Leclerc they had brought Vettel in, therefore that he had no chance to.
Today Vettel has defied a team order very clearly.
Not only did he refuse to allow Leclerc by from the first laps, but once Leclerc had matched, but the German soon got to the radio to say his tyres were going off, even though his lap times revealed little evidence to confirm his claim.
This was clearly an indirect request for a pit stop ensure he maintained themself the lead and to pay Leclerc off.
It is a bit underhand from Vettel, but he felt Leclerc was underhand in Monza and may see this as payback.
Overall, despite all of parties putting on a united front to the press, the confidence in the connection between drivers will likely probably be teetering on the verge. Can Leclerc anticipate Vettel to comply with team orders? No.
Can Vettel anticipate Leclerc in reverse? Following Monza, you could argue also no.
Leclerc sticking to staff requests in Sochi was the simplest thing he can do. They suited him as it was a sure fire method without having to work to it on down the road to Turn Two. Of course he went to comply with that one.
In the long run, there was a wisp of karma regarding the retirement of Vettel after his stand against requests from the pit wall.
Ferrari are doing a lot right. They got the fastest car in qualifying. Leclerc is driving quite sensationally on Saturdays, and also his fourth pole standing in a row underlines the operation of this Ferrari-Leclerc bundle.
Their approach has also enhanced. The one-two end in Singapore was proof of this, while holding a one-two standing in Sochi was strong, even though we dont know how that could have unfolded with Mercedes more powerful race pace – established by Hamiltons quickest lap, about the exact tyres as Leclerc at the end.
Achilles remains an Achilles heels.
Ferrari have lost a triumph later dominating Bahrain, to reliability, even when Leclercs engine went laps. In Germany, when they had seemed set to take rod both cars had to begin from position due to engine problems. When a berth was on the cards and to Vettel, the same thing happened in Austria.
Now that Achilles heel has hurt again, since when Vettel retired having a collapse in his hybrid , it plonked the race directly into Mercedes lap because of the following digital safety automobile, set up to control the race while marshals recovered Vettels stricken vehicle.
The signs are positive for 2020, but this is one aspect that has to be improved on if they want to conquer Mercedes throughout a full season.
The security car that was virtual killed the possibility of a thrilling ending off . With no, Hamilton, fighting to pass Leclerc and with tyres and pace, would have been charging.
It would have been Monza and Formula 1 at its finest.
However, the VSC talented Hamilton the direct – it decreased time lost in the pits and also others were having to move slow on the track, and he appeared clear of Leclerc and onto better tyres.
People will moan that the safety vehicle or VSC principles kill racing, and Silverstone this season was just another race which was destroyed by the phone of a security automobile, downing Hamilton another easy triumph.
The reverse side is that security cars have created some brilliant and better races too.
Think back to two races a year: China, once Daniel Ricciardo charged through the field to win in exciting style, and Melbourne, once Vettel snuck the triumph from beneath the nose Mercedes after a mid-race safety car.
Finally it boils down to if it is reasonable competition, although it could go both ways.
In benefiting under a security car, Plan can play a part. If you go longer before pitting youre more likely to acquire an advantage of pitting every time a security car stems, as occurred to Mercedes at Sochi.
But really it still all comes down to sheer luck, and also you have to wonder whether that is fair.
It seems odd that a race can be won or lost under a VSC when the whole purpose of the VSC is to neutralise the race, and that explains the reason why the cars need to lap at a certain rate, to maintain the gaps between them the exact same.
1 solution to prevent this would be to shut the pit lane during VSC and under safety cars to force drivers to take a time penalty to account for your lap time gained.
That would be a means to make sure that, until the ending, the scene has been retained gripping in races like Russia, although there could be other options.
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