“Sure, Sebastian now has only one goal to be faster than Charles,” he said.

“In qualification and in the race. The Italians can forget a stable order. I just hope that they play fair with Sebastian!”

Ferrari has a history of using team orders to swap their drivers during races and this became an issue with Leclerc being told to remain behind Vettel in the early stages of last season.

Ecclestone also allayed concerns that Vettel’s level of performance would drop this season, describing him as a professional.

“Sebastian is mentally too strong and too attentive for that, just a professional,” he added.