Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will start on ‘same level’ in 2020 F1 season but there will be team order for their benefit.
Team orders are prevalent in F1, and particularly at the top teams, where naturally there are championships at stake. For example, Mercedes can ask Valtteri Bottas to give way to Lewis Hamilton if the situation requires it – which has happened before.
And in such scenarios, there is often one pilot within the team who is the number one; the driver who is most frequently on the receiving end of the switches – this driver is the priority for the team, and therefore gets special treatment.
Ferrari are one team who have historically had a number one and number two driver, be it in the Michael Schumacher/Rubens Barrichello era, or even the beginning of last year, when Vettel was given the title of number one in the early stages.
However, 2020 will see Ferrari abandon this number one/number two concept – for now – favoring equal terms at the start. With that said, in the event that one driver proves himself to be the dominant figure in the team for 2020 or in one particular race, the Maranello-based outfit will adjust accordingly, as Binotto explained.
“I think that he [Leclerc] has already proved to be ready,” he said to media including FormulaRpida.net. “I think he they did a fantastic, a great season last year. He was on the same level as Sebastian at the end of last year as well in terms of final results.
“I think he has proved that he can do it. So I think it’s right that they are on the same level to start the 2020 F1 season, I think they know as well that the team is as the first priority. So team orders may still be there. I’m not saying that they are free to race, [or] that there will be no team orders.
“So they may be team orders to the benefit of the entire team in case. But it has to be a clear situation,” said the Italian, prior to going slightly more in-depth with regards to their relationship, which looked like going in a bad line at one point.
“I think that last year has been very useful to both of them and myself to know each other, to understand how we should behave and what should be the roles in the team,” said Binotto. “What’s the priority? The team is first.
“I think that the two drivers now know each other a lot more better. I’m very happy the way that the level of the discussion we got, the level of contribution to the car, to the team and the way that really hey are discussing.
“So I think that generally speaking, there is not much to tell them, because they understand perfectly what should be the way to be able to win on track.” Focusing more on their machinery aspect of the team, Binotto also added that 2020’s car has been designed to be more well-rounded, as Ferrari hope to aid Vettel and Leclerc.
“I think let’s judge the car next week or later in the season,” he said. “But that was certainly one of the objectives by designing the car, and to give more confidence to both drivers, Vettel and Leclerc.”
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The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani