Binotto’s Vettel dig as Ferrari ‘count on both drivers’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc

Scoring points on his Ferrari debut while the only points the driver he replaced scored were penalty points, Mattia Binotto says it is nice to “finally” be able to “count on both” drivers.

Last season in Sebastian Vettel’s final year with Ferrari, the Scuderia had only five double points-hauls in the 17-race season.

While Charles Leclerc bagged 98 in total, Vettel managed just 33 with Ferrari falling to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship. Had Vettel matched his team-mate, Ferrari could have fought for fourth place.

Vettel left the team at the end of a tense 2020 season, replaced by Carlos Sainz, and headed to Aston Martin.

The two had contrasting debuts with their new teams.

While Sainz had a solid first outing, bringing his SF21 home in eighth place with Leclerc P6, Vettel qualified P18 only to be hit with a grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellows in Q1.

Running outside the points, his weekend went from bad to worse when he rear-ended Esteban Ocon and was hit with a 10-second penalty. He did bag points, five, but they were all penalty points.

Binotto seems relieved not to have to deal with the problem that is Vettel, instead enjoying his new line up, one he says he can “finally” count on to deliver.

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The Ferrari team boss told Sky Italia: “I’m really happy with the drivers, I’m happy to be able to count on both of them finally.

“Carlos did a very good job with the pace. And then the motivation is important, the wish to grow as a team and not only with the drivers.

“Today was just the first race, they will understand where to improve.

“In this season we will not develop the car a lot, because we’re already focused on 2022. We will bring some upgrades, but it’s important that they work and they lead the car in the right direction.”

He added: “We chose Carlos because we knew that he is strong during the race, he proved that today.

“He’s gaining confidence with the car, he’s settling in with the team very well, he’s working very well with Charles.

“Charles yesterday after the qualifying thanked Carlos for pushing him to do the best possible lap. So, I’m happy with both of them.

“Knowing that we can count on both of them is really important. The most important thing is to be motivated to keep growing.

“Our opponents today are not Carlos for Charles and Charles for Carlos, but the cars ahead of us. The day when we will be ahead of all the other teams, our drivers will be allowed to fight also with each other.”

Ferrari left Bahrain fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with Binotto saying it was a “good” start to the season for the team.

He continued: “Yes, we’re happy but if we look at the best cars ahead of us, we see that we have to keep improving. We will learn from today and we will analyse the data.

“We fought with McLaren, even if Charles lost the position, Carlos ended the race close to Ricciardo, even if his race was affected by the starting position.

“But I think it was a good race in general, but there is much to do and to work, so we’re already focused on Imola.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla

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