F1 head Ross Brawn is of the view that Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is for now ‘managing the situation well’ with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari’s former boss Maurizio Arrivabene came under severe criticism for not aiding Vettel as much in 2018 with Kimi Raikkonen in the team. At the same time, Mercedes started to focus on Lewis Hamilton when Valtteri Bottas was out of the equation.
It was an easy situation though for the German manufacturer, not as much for Ferrari with both performing to expected levels. With Arrivabene out of equation, new team principal Binotto laid down a clear indication of how they will work from 2019 onward.
While Vettel remains as the top priority considering the titles he has won but Binotto is open with his support to any driver in the season if the situation turns around. Despite the openness, the team continues to be criticised after the three races.
Leclerc’s performances have created a new challenge for the team but Vettel still seems to have an edge to get the benefit of a doubt. In the three races so far, the German only looked vulnerable in Bahrain while he seemed under control in the other races over Leclerc.
Brawn – who has been in a similar position as Binotto – feels that the Ferrari chief is managing the situation well enough for now. “In Bahrain the team had the performance but not the reliability,” wrote Brawn in his post-race column.
“In China the performance was not at a level to fight with Mercedes for pole on Saturday or the win on Sunday. Thus, having coming away from winter testing convinced it could fight the Anglo-German squad on equal terms, the Italian outfit found itself behind in both the drivers’ and constructors’ classifications and in the latter, the gap is already quite big.
“Furthermore, team principal Mattia Binotto finds himself having to manage what is definitely a new situation for Ferrari, in the shape of two drivers fighting at a very high level. For now, Mattia is managing the situation well.
“He is dealing on the one hand with the talented young Leclerc, while managing the valuable resource that is Vettel, who as a four-times world champion has shown himself capable of dealing with pressure in the past.
“This is definitely a tricky year for Sebastian and the podium in Shanghai will have been a confidence boost, while Charles has shown great maturity in accepting team decisions that are not easy to digest.
“The first three races have confirmed that if Ferrari wants to challenge Mercedes everything has to be perfect at all levels: performance, reliability and teamwork. That’s what Binotto and his guys have to do and, knowing Mattia, I am sure he is aware of that and will devote all his energies to ensuring it happens.”
Various calls has been made especially from the Italian media regarding Vettel and Leclerc but the fact remains that the German has done a good job in two of the three races with only Bahrain being the grand prix where the Monegasque dominated on the whole.
While there is no doubting the caliber of Leclerc as a performer, it is still early days for him in his F1 career and it is certain that his time will come with experience, where he will be able to handle all situations during a grand prix weekend.
With Ferrari looking ways to challenge Mercedes, the German manufacturer equaled a record of three consecutive 1-2 finishes in F1 – a sequence which last happened in 1992 with Williams-Renault achieving the feat with a dominant FW14B.
In the season Nigel Mansell took the title while Williams dominated the proceedings. But Brawn hopes that the same doesn’t happen in 2019 as he feels Ferrari is a credible threat this year with Red Bull Racing Honda not far off behind.
“Despite the statistics being racked up by Mercedes, I don’t believe that 2019 will follow the same script as ‘92,” he wrote. “The three consecutive one-two finishes scored by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are definitely down to a team that is operating to perfection at the moment, with a top notch technical package, but it’s also fair to say it is up against stronger opposition than was Williams back in ’92.”
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