Ferrari did not tell Charles Leclerc about Sebastian Vettel’s time penalty in the Canadian Grand Prix; the team saying it simply forgot to pass the message on in the late stages of the race.
Leclerc finished six seconds behind his team-mate in third place on Sunday, while Vettel was demoted from first to second by a five-second time penalty for the way he rejoined the track after a mistake under pressure from Lewis Hamilton. Leclerc showed strong pace in the closing stages but didn’t get within the margin needed to also profit from Vettel’s penalty, and said he was unaware the lead Ferrari was going to lose the race.
“I was not aware at all,” Leclerc said. “I pushed, but I didn’t know what was going on in front; I didn’t know Seb had a penalty. I was just pushing in case something happened in front, to be there if I had an opportunity. But I was not aware of the five seconds penalty so no, I only did my own race.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto later confirmed the team had not remembered to pass on the message because it was focusing on the fallout from the penalty.
“We didn’t (tell Leclerc), it was a mistake from our side,” Binotto said. “We are very busy on the pit wall. We forgot. We should have done it, but we didn’t.”
Leclerc also revealed he had turned down a request from the team to pit and try and get the extra point for the fastest lap because he believed he still had an outside chance of being in the mix for victory in the closing stages.
“I think race pace was quite strong, so, on that I was very happy,” he said. “The start was quite tricky with Lewis, but I decided to not take any risks. It was quite a boring race from then on, trying to manage the tires in the first eight-nine laps, and from then on I started to push. I could feel that we were quite good and, on the second stint, the car felt great.
“We were very quick. I could feel I was catching a little bit in front. The team asked me to pit to do the fastest lap, and I asked to continue because I could see that the gap was closing. I knew it would be quite difficult to catch them, but if there was an opportunity I wanted to be there, so I didn’t give up. At the end, it didn’t pay off.
“We got third, it’s a good result, but the team definitely deserved more after such a great weekend. Also disappointed for the team and Seb. I think the first position was in our hands, and it’s a shame it slipped away the way it did. So hopefully we’ll have other good races in the future.”