Ferrari reserves the right to use team orders in the event of a “clear situation” that benefits the entire team, says team principal Mattia Binotto.
Heading into the 2020 Formula 1 season with Charles Leclerc now on a level-pegging to teammate Sebastian Vettel, Binotto revealed that does not mean the team are always free to duke-it-out as they see fit.
“I am not saying that they are free to race with no team orders,” he told reporters after the first test in Barcelona, “so there might be team orders for the benefit of the entire team. But it has to be a clear situation.”
In 2019, the Scuderia started the season with Vettel as the clear-cut number one driver, but Binotto acknowledges that Leclerc’s performances throughout the season have earned him equal consideration.
“I think Charles drove a fantastic season last year and he has reached the same level of Sebastian as well in terms of final results,” he said. “So it is right that they are on the same level to start in 2020 and I think they know as well the team has the first priority so team orders may still be there.”
Asked whether he fears giving his drivers equal status could lead to a repeat of their clash at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, Binotto insisted the pairing’s improved working relationship should help avoid such incidents.
“I think that the two drivers know each other much better now,” he explained, praising the openness of communication between the pair. “Generally speaking, there’s not much I need to tell them because they understand perfectly what the path must be to win on the track.”