Charles Leclerc has nothing in his contract stating he will be given preferential treatment over his new team-mate Carlos Sainz, says Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.
Sainz is joining the Scuderia as replacement for Sebastian Vettel, that move having been announced several months before the four-time former World Champion got himself fixed up with an Aston Martin drive for 2021.
Speculation was widespread that this season Ferrari had put all their eggs in Leclerc’s basket, knowing Vettel was on his way out of the team, and even the German admitted he could not understand why his car appeared to be slower than that of his team-mate.
But team principal Binotto, speaking during an end-of-season media day at Maranello where Sainz began his integration after leaving McLaren, insists both drivers will be on an equal
footing going into the new campaign which begins in Australia on March 21.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) December 19, 2020
“There is nothing in the contract of Charles [about] him being the leader. They will be free to fight on track,” said Binotto, quoted by the BBC.
“It is important they will not damage themselves. They will have equal opportunities at the start of the season.
“The top priority is to maximise the team points and it may be that in some races the two are accepting decisions to optimise the team’s interests, but by doing the team interest we are helping the driver interest.
“Later in the season, if one has a clear advantage and one can achieve something the other cannot, it will be an open discussion [about team orders].”
Asked what he expected of Sainz, Binotto said: “I expect him to contribute to the constructors’ Championship. It is important to have two drivers doing very well in the car.
“By doing well in the constructors’ Championship, it means the two drivers are doing well in the drivers’ classification. I am hoping and pretty sure that Carlos will help us in terms of doing better in terms of constructors’.
“I am expecting him to be a great team-mate and I am expecting he is a hard worker. He is a leader and I expect him to help develop the team in the future.”
As he officially began life as a Ferrari driver, his fourth F1 team having first joined Toro Rosso in 2015, Sainz said: “It is a special day for me and one I will probably never forget.”