Sebastian Vettel Takes 'Ask For Forgiveness Not Permission' Approach To Russian Grand Prix Team Orders

Sebastian Vettel inching in front of Charles Leclerc at the Russian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel inching in front of Charles Leclerc at the Russian Grand Prix.
Photo: Clive Mason (Getty Images)

It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, or do whatever we want and then apologize later. At least, that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves since we could talk, and that’s the motto Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel seems to still live by—but instead of cookies before dinner, he’s applying it to team orders.

It sure does make things entertaining, though.

The tensions between Vettel and his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc have been hovering around an “annoyed college roommates” level lately, with the Russian Grand Prix as their display case. Vettel, who qualified third, got the slipstream off of pole-sitter Leclerc off of the start, settling them into first and second. The team soon told Vettel to let Leclerc by, likely due to his obvious start advantage, but Vettel avoided the issue like most of us would by radioing that Leclerc would need to catch up before he let him pass.


It didn’t really matter in the end, since Vettel retired early from the grand prix to finish 18th while Leclerc got third behind the Mercedes drivers. But Vettel is certainly sorry now, nearly two weeks later—the ideal time to be sorry for any perceived wrongdoing that still benefitted you. It’s great life practice, really.

Vettel said he spoke about what happened with the team more than once, via quotes on the F1 website, and Leclerc called it a “misunderstanding from the car.” Leclerc said the situation wasn’t clear for the two drivers when starting the race, that it won’t happen again, and that “everything is fine” now.

Vettel feels similarly, according to his quotes from

“Generally, everything is clear,” said Vettel. “Of course you talk to each other. There was a conversation, but there were also other conversations. I wouldn’t make such a fuss around the whole story. [...]

“What agreement there was or wasn’t, or who is right and who isn’t, is perhaps not so important.

“But of course I got the message at the radio to change the place, and did not do it. And that was certainly not right.”


All of those times you drank the last of the milk and didn’t replace it, forcing your roommate to go the store and fork over the money once again, were also certainly not right.

But hey, a hustle is a hustle, right? It’s every person for themselves out here.

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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Seb has a history of ignoring team orders. Nobody clicking on this article should be surprised by his behavior in Russia or the fact that this apology is insincere. #Multi21

FWIW: I really don’t like jumping on the Senna bandwagon; I think he was overly aggressive and not a “Gentleman” racer like many of the greats to have come before and after him. That said, even Senna rewarded Berger and let him take the win in Japan 1991. Seb never gave Webber the same courtesy and Hamilton has yet to do the same for Bottas after Russia 2018.