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Ferrari insists Leclerc is 'free to fight' Vettel

  • Published on 02 Mar 2019 14:33
  • comments 9
  • By: Harry Mattocks

Ferrari's new team principal Mattia has made it clear that Charles Leclerc will not be restricted when it comes to battling with teammate Sebastian Vettel. He insisted that the pair are "free to fight", which is slightly conflicting with a previous statement by the team.

Even before testing began, Ferrari had made it clear that they would prioritise Vettel over Leclerc if a situation arose. This was taken as a sign that Leclerc would take over from Raikkonen in more ways than one by becoming support to Vettel.

“Obviously the two will be free to fight,” Binotto said. “We will not ask Charles to go slow. Or Sebastian to be faster [than him]. We need both of them to run to the maximum and try to do their best.

“But 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.”

However, Binotto sees this stance as an advantage for the Scuderia, who was criticised for not being decisive in giving the German driver "priority" status when he needed it most in the fight against Hamilton and Mercedes. 

“I think that it’s good as well for Ferrari,” Binotto said. "When you’ve got your intentions clear from the start, at least you do not make mistakes when you have an ambiguous situation.”

When asked about the pace that Leclerc has shown over the past two weeks, he replied: “Charles is a good driver, certainly a very fast driver,” Binotto said. “Here in Barcelona he focused himself on understanding the car, working with the new team and engineers.

“I don’t think there was a relative battle on the track between the two [Leclerc and Vettel]. More important for us [is] to understand the car. They’ve done very similar lap times, true, but I think that’s demonstrating Charles is a good and fast driver.

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

“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.”

Replies (9)

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  • I could kinda see this. Yes, I could believe Ferrari on This. Ferrari of all teams. Hear me out: since when have Ferrari hired juniors to their main team? It's only been done a handful of times, as far as I can recall. Ferrari is a really conservative team, the Mafia of F1. Hiring Leclerc is one of the least Ferrari things to do. And while they still respect Vettel, it's no secret that they have sobered up on the view of him as "the saviour of the scuderia". And if they've been observant, they've seen what RB have done with Ric and Ver, or how dominant Merc' was with Ros and Hammy, and want in on that sweet pie. A pie of two hungry drivers chasing Hammy like two rabid CoD players after a can of Monster Energy. So I could very well see them unleash both of them. 1st driver 2nd driver can work well against one driver, but two? Two active cars are harder to defend against, and harder to set up strategy against.

    • + 0
    • Mar 2 2019 - 14:52
    • Your point of hiring a junior at Ferrari is a good one. But I just don't think Ferrari knows how to deal with two alpha drivers. They literally have no experience. But more importantly, I doubt they really want an intra team battle

      • + 0
      • Mar 16 2019 - 21:20
  • Time will tell. I don't doubt Ferrari won't prioritize one driver over the other until such a time as it's needed. It looks to me like they have been fair in letting the drivers race until a clear number one is established. One of the problems they had last year was to not prioritize Vettel soon enough. We'll see...

    • + 0
    • Mar 2 2019 - 21:57
  • A agree RAM - at some point, Ferarri should (will?) prioritise one driver above the other - Mercedes got it absolutely right last year - one e the maths suggests one has a heavily weighted chance of outperforming the other the instrumentation should be weighted towards that driver, strategy and all. It's pretty simple and just like it will be for Bottas this first half, Charles can ride like the wind and do wonders to protect himself from this forced situation. It's game on as far as I can tell.

    • + 0
    • Mar 3 2019 - 09:17
  • zubulla

    Posts: 1

    Trying to take an advantage of both drivers would be amazing benefit to Ferrari as well. Binotto is a smart man so he could have noticed this already.

    • + 0
    • Mar 3 2019 - 12:02
    • I don't know... Ferrari just isn't wired to allow for fair intrateam fights. They seem to rather lose championships than to keep two drivers motivated with chances to win.

      • + 0
      • Mar 4 2019 - 16:05
  • Dert38

    Posts: 190

    It's a trap

    • + 0
    • Mar 3 2019 - 20:01
  • Something tells me, Ferrari prioritises constructers more than drivers’ championship. If Vettel could come along with a decent lead over Ham, Leclerc, and Ver., good for him.

    • + 1
    • Mar 4 2019 - 03:48
    • This is what Im getting from this too.

      • + 0
      • Mar 4 2019 - 17:43

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