Ferrari say there is nothing in Charles Leclerc’s contract which guarantees him number one driver status at the Scuderia from 2021 and beyond.
Leclerc’s immediate impact at Ferrari in 2019 ensured that Sebastian Vettel was no longer given priority by the Scuderia and the two drivers were treated on equal terms.
But, with Vettel now out of the exit door, Leclerc is now the most experienced Ferrari driver as he prepares to start a new partnership with Carlos Sainz.
Sainz has been widely perceived to be a clear number two driver to Leclerc but Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has insisted that is not the case.
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) December 24, 2020
“There is nothing written in the contract of Charles being the leader,” Binotto confirmed, as quoted by RaceFans.net. “The two will be free to fight on track.
“I think it’s important that they are not damaging themselves, that’s clear. But they will have equal opportunity certainly at the start of the season.
“I’m hoping and I’m pretty sure that Carlos will help us in doing better in terms of constructors and overall as a team.
“He is a fast driver, he is very strong.
“If you look at the 2020 season he made, it was really a very good season. He has been even faster in qualifying which, I think if you look at the past years, he was not so fast in the quali. In 2020 he has been very strong in quali as well.
“He is a very strong racer. I think he’s one of those drivers that is finishing races very often and normally in the race he is improving his position compared to the quali.
“He’s had many seasons now at different teams, different methodologies in terms of working with the engineers, approaching the set-up, so he will certainly bring us a different experience which we are, again, very open to hear, to listen and eventually to learn where possible.
“I’m expecting him to be a great team mate as well for Charles. I think that the two will find each other very well, as well. I’m expecting he’s a hard worker. I’m expecting he is a leader.
“I’m expecting him to help develop the team and the team become stronger in the future.
“And that’s already in 2021. I don’t think we need to wait for the 2022, I think 2021 is where already I am pretty sure we will get benefit from him joining Ferrari.”