Ferrari's former technical director Ross Brawn insisted that the Italian giants need to carefully handle their "explosive combination" of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in the remaining 2019 season.

Ferrari's Russian Grand Prix was marred due to the team-order issue and a technical glitch that ended Vettel's race after 20-odd laps.

As a part of the apparent team strategy, Leclerc allowed Vettel to overtake him just to ensure the German went past Lewis Hamilton with ease. Hamilton had qualified between Vettel and pole setter Leclerc and hence Ferrari came up with the plan aiming for a 1-2 finish in Sochi.

However, Vettel, who was supposed to give back the lead to Leclerc according to their pre-race agreement, refused to obey the team orders after his superior start. Leclerc eventually got back his position when Ferrari made him pit stop before Vettel.

Charles Leclerc (2R) and Ferrari CEO Louis C. Camilleri (R) celebrate with team members after winning the Italian GP
Ferrari's winning streak ended last weekend in Sochi, Russia. AFP / Miguel MEDINA

Vettel, who has 194 points after 16 races, is fifth on the drivers' standings. He is 21 points behind his younger teammate who is third in the championship behind leader Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"It's a potentially explosive combination and needs careful handling. Ferrari has made a lot of progress but it still has to deal with the balance between its drivers," Brawn, who was with Ferrari during the Michael Schumacher glory days between 2000 and 2004, said.

The Prancing Horses lost all the advantage in Sochi last weekend when Vettel was forced to stop after his engine developed a problem in its hybrid system and that introduced a Virtual Safety Car. As soon as the car came in the play, the Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Bottas pounced into the pit lanes and from there, they never lost the lead.

Hamilton, who had already won thrice in Sochi, clinched a fourth victory there and it was overall his ninth win of the 2019 season. With five races left in the year, the next one is scheduled in Japan, where the previous five races have been won by a Mercedes driver, including Hamilton's four wins (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018).