Ferrari rubbish team orders claim after Vettel victory

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Ferrari has denied claims the decision to pit Kimi Raikkonen early equated to team orders aimed at benefiting Sebastian Vettel during the Monaco Grand Prix.

The issue of number one and number two drivers has rumbled throughout 2017, as the four-time world champion and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes become embroiled in a fight for the title.

Previously, that conversation had mostly reverberated around Mercedes, in Monaco, however, it was the Italian team under the spotlight after Raikkonen claimed his first pole of the season with Vettel alongside and Hamilton down the order.

As the race played out, the German was able to produce a number of fastest laps after the Finn had pitted, emerging ahead when he changed tyres three laps later and going on to take the victory.

“We don’t give team orders,” team boss Maurizio Arrivabene insisted when asked if Vettel's win had been planned. “For us, today’s result is what our company wants, what’s in our DNA.

“The guys are free to fight on track. Today, they were free to fight and they did. Sebastian was very quick on used tyres today. But leaving this aside, let me say that the guys did a great job, and we have a great car.

“Don’t forget that Kimi got pole position yesterday! He is not with us just to give a contribution, but also to race for himself. Yesterday he had done his own qualifying, today he has done his own race. They both did a great job, Kimi and Sebastian.”

The 29-year-old also dismissed the notion of the team purposely hampering Raikkonen, saying after the race: “The plan was to try and pull away which we did. Then Valtteri [Bottas] had really good pace. I think we were both struggling a bit with our rears, and at that point, the window opened.

“As soon as Valtteri pitted, I think Kimi responded. For me, I think I still had a bit of a gap, nothing to lose in P2, so I tried to push as hard as possible. Within two laps I was surprised myself to be able to pull a gap to come out in front.”

As for Raikkonen himself, he was left disappointed after finishing second and clearly more sceptical of the team decisions.

“I don't know why they pitted me then, I just finished the race,” the 2007 champion said. “Obviously they had reasons, as in any other race, but I cannot really answer that.

“Those are the rules and we all know it. We go with those but obviously, I don't know what happened other than we had 1 and 2, I got a less good result that I was hoping.”