Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari’s decision to put him on a long second stint to aid Sebastian Vettel’s chances of catching Valtteri Bottas was the “right thing” to do.
Leclerc managed to jump Vettel off the line and ran third behind the Mercedes in the early phase before being asked to move aside for his team-mate.
To compound the Monegasque’s misery, Red Bull pitted Max Verstappen early which allowed them to undercut Leclerc after the first round of pitstops.
After dropping to fifth, Ferrari opted to extend his second stint but left him out too long to catch and repass Verstappen in the closing stages on fresh tyres.
“I mean, if you look my own race, I think obviously we would have pitted earlier,” Leclerc told Sky Sports.
“If you look the team’s race, I think they did the right thing trying to slow down the Mercedes for Seb to come back, which was, I believe, the target.
“It didn’t work but that was the target, at least we tried and we look forward now.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto was forced to clarify post-race that the team order was not intended to benefit Vettel alone, but understood if Leclerc felt aggrieved given his result.
Leclerc refused to criticise the team’s decision to order him aside to let Vettel through but expects an explanation to understand the “full picture”.
“With Seb, I need to understand the full picture, to see the full picture, to speak with the engineers and understand the decision,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure there’s an explanation behind this decision and I will understand it.
“Anyway, it’s past. It has not been a great race for me, but overall the weekend I’ve not been as strong as I wanted.
“Qualifying was OK, but FP1, FP2, FP3 and going into the race without any mileage on the high-fuel runs was not ideal.
“Overall today was not a good day, but we’ll come back stronger.”