Ferrari SF1000 launch, 2020

Vettel: Leclerc hasn’t lowered my status at Ferrari

2020 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel disagreed with a suggestion his position at Ferrari has been diminished by the performance of his junior team mate Charles Leclerc.

Ahead of their first season together 12 months ago team principal Mattia Binotto said Vettel would be given preferential treatment in “50-50 situations”. However Leclerc out-scored him last season, and Binotto confirmed at the team’s car launch on Tuesday the pair will start the year on more equal terms.

However Vettel said he does not fell that means his status at the team has lowered.

“I don’t see it that way,” he said when the idea was put to him at the launch. “I think we were up last year as well, so it’s not like I had a different car. That’s the main thing, obviously, we both have the same car, and the same chance to race well. I never doubted that last year, I don’t think Charles did.

“I disagree with you. I don’t see it that way, down and up. It doesn’t change anything. Starting on equal terms or not, we were on equal terms all throughout last year. We are this year as well.”

Vettel, whose Ferrari contract expires at the end of this year, was initially unwilling to engage in questions over his future.

“As Mattia said I think it’s safest to live in the moment and I think the moment is right behind us,” he said, referring to the newly-launched SF1000. “The idea of tonight is to talk about what’s behind us, about this deal not so much.”

He addressed the subject later in the press conference. “At some point obviously we have to sort out what’s going on in the future,” said Vettel. “But I think we’ll have enough time to do so.

“So I’m not taking an extra special pressure. I feel good, confident. I think last year’s been a good year for me in a sense of learning a lot of things and understanding things. Certainly there are things I can do better and I’m sure that I will do better this year. I’m not stressed but certainly ambitious to prove it to myself.”

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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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16 comments on “Vettel: Leclerc hasn’t lowered my status at Ferrari”

  1. Good responses. I was never a fan of Vettel but I respect the guy and his talent and cheeky responses every now and then. Fingers crossed he has less mistakes and takes it to leclerc this year. He has it in him.

  2. Facts: The scoreboard shows that Vettel has been beaten by Leclerc on points, wins and podiums. Leclerc has a long term contract. They have both been given the same car.
    So, its really not that hard to figure out. Vettel has to fight for an extension and beat his teammate.

  3. Starting on equal terms or not, we were on equal terms all throughout last year. We are this year as well.

    Have to disagree with Vettel on this one. They imposed team orders to favour Vettel in the first 3 out o 4 races of the season to keep him in front… that isn’t equal footing. If it wasn’t for those team orders, Leclerc would have led Sebastian from race 1, all the way to the last race of the season.

    1. exactly @todfod. Off course it changed the situation,

    2. Denial is a river in Egypt…

    3. Well first of all, considering the setting, I would not have expected SV to say anything differently than he has. And while yes it is true that Binotto even said at the start of last year that they would favour SV “in 50-50 situations”, it didn’t take long before SV himself was given orders as well, so I think it did become more of an equal footing setting before long for them.

      And really…was that not understandable? Any real surprise that the team famous for their one-rooster philosophy would favour their engrained WDC level driver over a rookie to the team and near rookie to F1? Kudos to Charles of course, but without using the 20/20 of hindsight, I had no surprise they favoured SV initially. Given their history it would have been much more of a surprise if Binotto had said both drivers would have equal status and footing on the team from race one.

      And now here we are, now that CL has had an impressive first season, and Binotto has stated they will be on equal footing. And that is always pleasing for me to hear, especially coming from Ferrari. For me I always have and will always believe that we get robbed of some potency to a season when a top team hires a top driver a rear gunner, for one reason to not have two drivers robbing points from each other, and also to keep the peace on the team. Ya that works as a business model for a team, while risking the WCC, but what about the hundreds of millions of fans, without which F1 would not exist? We get robbed just so a team manager can theoretically have a little easier time managing two drivers? Nah I far prefer the LH/NR model of suspense and intrigue to the predictability of MS/Ferrari, as two example of the extremes a team can take it.

      For me the best thing Ferrari can do for all of us is exactly what they have stated they will do this year. Let them race. Leave out the politics. It’s what the fans deserve.

      1. @robbie – Good comment, agreed.

        1. Agree with Phylyp on this.
          Expect that there is some behind the scenes, fine print, in the Team Directive “We Will Let Them Race” that clearly states … “Do NOT run into each other”. Not extreme, but basic Team Requirements.
          If Merc runs away with the season … again, this might be one of the more enthralling parts of 2020.

  4. I don’t think Vettel had any choice but to say this, whether it’s true or not.

    At the end of the day, it’s consistent performance and results that count, and Vettel needs to deliver on that. There’s no doubting that he has the speed.

    If his contract extension is in doubt, I’d suggest that Vettel focus not on poles and wins (since pushing for those often results in errors and bigger losses), but consistently targeting P2s and P3s, thereby bringing home a string of solid points and demonstrating his consistency.

    It’s interesting that Vettel has now spent as much time at Ferrari as Alonso, it sometimes feels like he’s only joined recently.

    1. Doesn’t feel like that to me at all, good season in 2015, not as good in 2016, fairly good in 2017, then disaster all the way and I’ve watched most of those years, so definitely doesn’t seem he joined recently, seems he joined ages ago and did nothing.

  5. Leclerc hasn’t lowered my status at Ferrari

    Of course, Seb, Leclerc hasn’t lowered your status…
    Mattia has! :D :D :D

    1. Actually I’d say Ricciardo already did in 2014.

      1. Lol! Indeed

        Somehow I was thinking of his Ferrari journey

  6. If Vettel could cut out the mistakes (just one year’s worth: spinning the car round at Bahrain and Monza, crashing into Verstappen, colliding with his team mate at Interlagos etc.) they’d be almost even.
    If.

    1. @david-br

      Well.. to be fair .. if Leclerc didn’t have an engine issue in Bahrain, or have Ferrari drop the ball in Monaco qualifying and get his Singapore win snatched away by his own team, he’d be way ahead on points. So, if Vettel restricts his numerous errors, and Ferrari restricts their errors with Leclerc, you’d still have Leclerc come out on top.

      1. @todfod Hence ‘almost’ :o) I agree Leclerc had the better season even subtracting the Vettel mistakes.

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