Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Ferrari: Leclerc and Vettel are “free to fight”

2019 F1 season

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says new driver Charles Leclerc will not be required to play a support role to his team mate from the beginning of the championships.

Previous comments attributed to Binotto had prompted claims Leclerc would be required to serve as a ‘number two’ to team mate Sebastian Vettel from the start of the season.

However speaking to media at the Circuit de Catalunya today Binotto said it would be “good for Ferrari” to ensure its position was clear from the start.

“When you’ve got your intentions clear from the start, at least you do not make mistakes when you have an ambiguous situation,” he said.

“I think that obviously the two will be free to fight. We will not ask Charles to go slow or Sebastian to be faster. We need both of them to do the maximum and try to do their best.”

However Binotto indicated there could be some situations where Vettel would be their preferred driver.

“Certainly if there is any ambiguous situation at the start of the season, Sebastian is the one who has got more experience, he has been with us many years, he has already won championships, so he is our champion.”

Binotto said Leclerc’s performance in testing demonstrated the second-year driver was ready to join Ferrari.

“Charles is a good driver, certainly a very fast driver. I think that we saw this here in Barcelona he focused himself on understanding the car, working with the new team and engineers.

Vettel’s quickest lap time in testing was just one hundredth of a second faster than Leclerc’s.

“They’ve done very similar lap times,” said Binotto, “I think that’s demonstrating Charles is a good and fast driver.

“[But] I think we knew it since the past. It’s many years [he’s been] at Ferrari. We’ve seen that in the Alfa-Sauber last year.

“I don’t think Charles is a surprise in that respect. It’s not the testing at Barcelona that is telling us that was the right choice. It was certainly the right choice but the season will tell us more.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Ferrari: Leclerc and Vettel are “free to fight””

  1. I’m keen to see LEC racing the greats and VES this year.
    (And I hope Renault has a good car for HUL vs RIC, but that’s another subject…)

  2. They won’t fight because Charles will be clearly ahead. This season feels like it will be a repeat of 2014 for Seb.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      1st March 2019, 16:56

      A bit optimistic. This is Vettel’s 5th year with Ferrari. And there isn’t goign to be a sudden change in performance like in 2014 with the new hybrid era. Leclerc has only had one season and he clearly had 1 weakess, even against ericsson. He wasn’t good in the wet. And Suddenly moving to a top team Where Vettel has been number 1 for quite some time is goign to be very hard. Not impossible but very unlikely, especially at the start of the season.

      1. A little optimistic yeh but Vettel is also not very good in the wet.

        1. Neither is LeClerc in wets.

    2. Let me guess: once again Seb will run away out of fear and is gonna seek shelter under an easier challenge, say, pairing Vandoorne at F-E?

    3. Major VET danger will not be wet tracks (and Ham) but Leclerc’s mental strength. This guy was capable win race one day after he lost his father.. astonishing indeed.

  3. I feel it will be a bit like Hamilton and Alonso at McLaren. Hopefully with less drama, even though Vettel can be a drama-queen sometimes.
    If Ferrari has a winning car I think Leclerc can get a few wins. I’m sure the pressure must be very big. He has to prove he can be a champion one day, and for that he should be consistent, be close to Vettel, and hopefully get more wins than Bottas in his first year at Mercedes.

  4. When they sacked Arrivabene and Kimi Ferrari wanted to make a new start, a fresh working enviroment. But what Binotto said before and now I don’t think they are much better position than last year. Do they really know how fast Leclerc is compared to Seb and who will eventually be n.1 and n.2 and how will they solve that.

  5. Drivers on equal footing …. I wonder how this translates to and from … Italian.??
    Is Enzo watching …? You bet.

  6. thats how it should be done…let them fight until the middle of the season… unlike arrivabene, im glad he is gone

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