Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc

Binotto: Ferrari drivers will be free to fight

Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be “free to fight” at the outset of the 2021 Formula 1 season, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.

With the departure of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and the introduction of Sainz, it was speculated that the Scuderia would throw its full weight behind Leclerc as its number one driver, but Binotto says that will not be the case, at least initially.

“There is nothing written in the contract of Charles being the leader,” he told reporters on Friday. “I think that the two will be free to fight.

“Obviously it’s important that they are not damaging themselves, but I think that they will have equal opportunity – certainly 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 can’t, it will be an open discussion between the two.”

The Scuderia’s youngest driver pairing since 1968, Binotto said he was expecting Leclerc and Sainz to work well together.

“We’ve got two drivers very young but very talented, and also with already some experience,” he noted.”Charles had a great season. He is very talented and very fast. He has developed as a person and as a leader and today all the engineers see him as an important reference point in the future.

“I am hoping and pretty sure that Carlos will help us in terms of doing better in terms of constructors. I expect him to contribute to the constructors’ championship. It is important to have two drivers doing very well in the car.

“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.”