Vettel defends team orders but Mercedes say Ferrari risk setting a 'predecent'

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Sebastian Vettel has (unsurprisingly) defended the use of team orders by Ferrari during the Chinese Grand Prix.

The German was drafted ahead of his teammate Charles Leclerc during the first stint as he sat behind the Monegasque while the two Mercedes' slowly pulled away in the lead.

However, once in clear air, Vettel too made little impression and would continue falling back, incurring the wrath of Leclerc who demanded the "full picture" post-race.

“I felt I could go faster than Charles," he stated. "[But when in front,] it was difficult for me to find a rhythm so I locked up and lost the advantage again."

Even so, the four-time world champion argued: "I think it’s fair if you see the whole race – we just weren’t able to catch Mercedes."

Speaking mid-race though during the Sky Sports coverage, former world champion Nico Rosberg slammed the decision by the Ferrari pit wall.

"I understand they had to try something but they treated Leclerc a bit too harsh," he claimed.

"Now that they see 'OK it doesn't actually make any difference' it's really difficult for them and really unfair on Leclerc."

Worse still, a compromising of Charles' strategy would see him eventually finish fifth, as a chase to Max Verstappen fell short in the final laps.

“I was hoping for Charles to pip Max at the end but he was too far back," Vettel added.

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Adding his view, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he understood the thinking but fears it could stoke future dilemmas down the road.

"Once you start doing these things, it becomes very complicated, because you start to set a precedent and you're opening up a can of worms," the Austrian explained.

"You might have to call every single race when the car is behind would say 'I can go quicker'.

"It's not an easy situation. We have been there with Nico and Lewis, and we have been there with Valtteri and Lewis as well," Wolff added.

"We had a situation today where they were pushing each other very hard, taking a risk of potentially not finishing the race.

"So it's not a Ferrari problem alone. Every team has that issue if you have two alpha drivers."