Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

Vettel insists he and Leclerc are “free to race”

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has insisted he and new team mate Charles Leclerc will be free to race each other from the beginning of the season.

Ferrari’s new team principal Mattia Binotto said earlier this year Vettel would be given priority over Leclerc in certain situations earlier in the season. In a subsequent interview, Binotto later said the two would be “free to fight” but also indicated Vettel could enjoy the team’s favour in some circumstances.

“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,” said Binotto.

Asked to clarify the arrangement between him and Leclerc ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Vettel “I don’t think there’s much point going into certain situations.

“But I think it’s very clear and I think Mattia also made it very clear we are free to race each other. I think Charles will do his best to help himself, to help the team and that’s the same for me, I’ll do the best to help myself and to help the team.

“In the end we are racing for Ferrari and that means we will try to get Ferrari back to where we’ve been trying to get it back to the last couple of years. That’s the main priority and the rest, it’s a long long season and I think it’s a bit pointless at this point to start pointing out certain scenarios.”

Lewis Hamilton,who was handed a victory by team mate Valtteri Bottas in the Russian Grand Prix last year, said the pair will also start the new season on an equal footing.

“We’re free to race like every single year,” he said. “That was said at the beginning when we were back at the factory and it’s repeated today.

“And that’s how I like it. It means we both have a fair shot. It’s been the same every single year.

“It is only to a point where one driver doesn’t win the championship any more if we’re lucky enough to be in that position, things shift, but generally we’re always free to race and I think that’s great.”

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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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5 comments on “Vettel insists he and Leclerc are “free to race””

  1. Well, Vettel (and Ferrari) said the same about him and Kimi last year, didn’t they.

    I think that what Binotto has mentioned about the team giving Vettel priority in some situations reflects the reality. Sure, they will hardly go and tell Leclerc not to do his best, or feel second driver. But when it comes to letting him attack Vettel on track, or holding him up, that will not be something Ferrari is going for.

    1. who cares, every top team does it and should do it. Otherwise it’ll be Hamilton/Rosberg situation where no team is going to benefit from anymore.

      We are grown ups, put yourself in their shoes and think again.

  2. I don’t want an Ocon-Perez situation, but neither I want an Hamilton-Bottas (Schumacher-Teammate) one. My feeling is that Leclerc knows his time will come and will help the team and Vettel if needed, but also that the team knows that preventing him to win (à là Bottas in Russia) can have bad consequences.

    I follow F1 and Ferrari since the Alesi-Berger times and boy this lineup is the best I can remember. I’m really curious to see how it is to have two real contenders for the WC on track.

    1. @m-bagattini, I think Ferrari will be very keen to see what Leclerc can do. Holding him back will only be counter-productive. They will also want to see how Vettel reacts on the days when Leclerc beats him. They will already be keeping their eye on the future. They don’t know when yet but a time will come when Leclerc is the Verstappen of the team and Vettel the Ricciardo, and at that point I am pretty sure Vettel will retire. And I am sure Ferrari will be considering all these things and already wondering: if things go well with Leclerc, who do we want to replace Vettel with. Because I think it’s guaranteed that Vettel will not ever be willing to settle into a No.2 role.

  3. We know Bottas is not faster than Hamilton so he has no chance to compete but Leclerc may be faster than all of them even faster than Max.

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