Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team will adopt a “let them race” policy for its two drivers in the 2020 F1 season.Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will be allowed to fight each other for position, despite the pair colliding during the penultimate round of last year’s championship in Brazil.
At the start of last year Ferrari operated a policy under which Vettel, by far the more experienced driver, would be given preferential treatment in certain situations. However he was out-scored by Leclerc over their first season together, and while Vettel’s contract expires at the end of this season Leclerc has signed a new long-term deal with Ferrari.
Speaking at the launch of the team’s new car yesterday, Binotto compared the current situation to 12 months ago, and indicated the pair will be treated more as equals this year.
“I think that it’s a year after, things have developed,” he said. “Charles now has got a year’s experience with us.
“I think that point last year at that time we said that Seb would have been first driver, Charles second. I think that after a year that both have proved that they can both fight for the best results. They are able to be at the same level.”
[smr2020test]However Leclerc said he expects the pair will take steps to ensure there is no repeat of the crash which put both drivers out at Interlagos last year.
“The margins will probably be a bit bigger to be more on the safe side,” he said.
“I think we both learned the lesson of what happened in Brazil. So, yes, of course we are free to race each other.
“But on the other hand we are team mates, there are a lot of people working behind the scenes on the car for us to perform at our best on-track. And again we are a team so things like in Brazil shouldn’t happen.”
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23 comments on “Ferrari adopts “let them race” policy for Vettel and Leclerc”
12th February 2020, 7:10
“Yeah thank you
Thank you guys”
12th February 2020, 7:14
One hopes that they can manage to have a harmonious and yet competitive on-track relationship.
If Vettel gets into his stride, however, it’ll mean that the Ferrari pairing are likely to be taking points off each other, so it seems more likely they’ll end up chasing the WCC than the WDC, and that isn’t quite like the Ferrari of old.
12th February 2020, 7:20
Yeah, being all cosy and happy will happen until one of them starts to win and the other fights back @phylyp
12th February 2020, 9:32
It reminds me a bit of Rosberg/Hamilton before the start of 2014 @bascb, @phylyp – as you say, let’s see how that works out for them then. Still, might avoid some of the early-season unneeded, and unhelpful team orders of last season, and I do think it is the best way to go when you have two drivers who are seemingly well matched in pace as these two are.
12th February 2020, 7:30
“The margins will probably be a bit bigger to be more on the safe side,”
12th February 2020, 7:51
Although one wants to see this policy last the entire season, i doubt if it will last until the summer break. Everything seems rosy only before the season begins.
Come race day in Melbourne, they are two individuals fighting for points and position. Such a situation is bound to have a flash point.
I just hope the on-track action results in good racing and the drivers do not leave the tracks with some sort of angst against one another.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
12th February 2020, 8:18
The question is does Mattia want a Ferrari driver to win the WDC, and does he want Ferrari to win the WCC as well, or does he want Sebastian to win a few races? It seems to me that last year he wanted Sebastian to win some races. If he carries that philosophy into this season then why should he expect a different result from last year? Lewis and Mercedes will win the WDC and the WCC.
If Ferrari are serious about wanting to win the WCC and having a WDC driver (well, why do you compete in F1?) then they need to discard this silly notion of “Sebastian is our best other driver”. Their best “other driver” options are Max, Lewis, and Daniel. Any of these would produce better results than Sebastian.
12th February 2020, 8:37
Why do I not believe this?..
Or rather – why do I believe, that it doesn’t mean anything?
Yes, he “promised” to do this, but the promise is empty.
12th February 2020, 12:18
Hahaha, I love having these crazy guys around. It is an art to get it wrong all the time while having a car that could potentially do it. Seriously, it is top notch entertainment they deliver, like a comedy. Priceless fools.
Avro Anson (@avroanson)
12th February 2020, 8:39
This will end in tears – Vettel is not and never has been a team driver. He has form taking out his team mates going back a decade. Though he didn’t take out Ricciardo, because he couldn’t catch him.
12th February 2020, 8:48
loool this made my morning.
12th February 2020, 9:26
…or, he didn’t even try that hard – since bad luck stole several potential race wins from him…
After all, the Verrari move was at stake (through the exit clause)!
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
12th February 2020, 9:21
If they let them race, it will be an example of why this driver paring is not the strongest driver pairing isn’t the best on the grid. Despite both drivers individually possibly having potential to score more points than Hamilton and Bottas do together (if they had the same car), I don’t think they yet work well as a team which Bottas and Hamilton do.
I still think it is obvious that hamilton and Bottas is the best combination because Vettel and Leclerc i think will hit each other at least a few times this year and cost the team valuable points.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
12th February 2020, 9:30
ugh, i must have changed my mind in the middle of writing the first sentence. oh well, it still means the same thing really.
12th February 2020, 11:14
That’s because they have the best car by miles and you are looking at the final result which doesn’t reflect the real drivers performance.
Take nothing from Hamilton who can maximize the full potential of the car. However Bottas have been disappointing, in the races where Mercedes isn’t favorite to win, Hamilton would be fighting for the win or a podium at least whereas Bottas would be nowhere near him (5th or 6th depending on the opposition). While in the races where Mercedes is strong, Hamilton would be first hanging around and controlling the race 10/15 seconds from Bottas.
Mercedes are quite OK with this and who can blame them BTW, as long as they can produce the best car on the grid. Once the competition will catch they will start seriously thinking to sign a better driver than Bottas
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
12th February 2020, 12:42
The car is nothing to do with my decision to rate them as the best combination what so ever. That is why i said “if they had the same car” when comparing the ferrari and Mercedes drivers in brackets….
If Vettel and Leclerc were in the best car, we would have things that have happened this year. vettel and Leclerc colliding because of being competitive. Even when Hamilton and Rosberg were together, there were events like Belgium 2014, Austria one year and spain 2016 where they clash and cost themselves a lot of points. Bottas sometimes underperforms. But a combination of hamilton (best on the grid) and Bottas who never gets in the way and at least sometimes gets the better of Hamilton. This IMO costs the team less points than Vettel and Leclerc if they were in the best team. The performance of the car isn’t related to my points. Vettel isn’t as good as Hamilton and neither is Leclerc. When both these drivers are at their best, they are both better then Bottas. But the combination of the two IMO makes the strength of the team weaker than the Mercedes pair, despite their drivers ability. Hamilton edges out them both anyway and the way Hamilton and Bottas get along makes it stronger already anyway. There is no stupid crashes or tension between them that ruins the races. To me they are actually a better combination as a team than Rosberg and Hamilton when they were together, despite Rosberg being better than Bottas in certain areas.
Even you saying Mercedes have the best car by miles is a stretch. Think that if Vettel and Leclerc hadn’t had as many incidents this year. Leclerc in Monaco, germany and japan, he could have been far closer to Bottas. These incidents were his own fault. Same with Vettel in many areas. The car overall this season was only slightly worse than Mercedes. Reliability and the drivers making mistakes or them not working together as a team well was a heavy factor in not being close to beating Bottas. Overall, I think leclerc has only been marginally better than Bottas this year, and Vettel most certainly hasn’t. But both should have been closer.
In the races you mention where Mercedes were not at the top, it hasn’t always been just Bottas underperforming. Hamilton was also very poor in germany and Bottas was the one to get a podium in Austria while Hamilton was in 5th. About the only races I can think of where Bottas was well off Hamilton pace and position wise was Canada and Hungary. Though in Hungary he wasn’t helped by Leclerc giving him a puncture. He’s usually been closer than 10 seconds. more like between 5 and 10 in some of them. France was nearly 20. There were hardly any that were between 10 and 15. I think Belgium was the only one of the year that was within that gap at the end result.
And I think that Bottas also had his race wins at times when Mercedes were and were not the best, so that should balance things out a bit, but does show him being a bit inconsistent. The first race for example, beating Hamilton by 20 seconds and getting fastest lap. Then I don’t think Mercedes were the strongest in Japan or the USA as qualifying suggested. Bottas just nailed that in the USA in qualifying. He’s been inconsistent, but Hamilton hasn’t quite been leading at the margins you mention. They have been lower than that in races like Hungary, Britain (which I don’t think was that reflective), France and Abu Dhabi (also not fair to compare).
Basically, I think that Bottas is still a bit inconsistent, but certainly better than last year and he finished 2nd this year in the championship. I certainly don’t think Ferrari has been any weaker than last year. Bottas has just improved. I still think that it is pretty obvious why Hamilton and Bottas as a driver paring are better than Vettel and Leclerc, and has noting to do with the cars ability. And if Vettel and Leclerc can fight this year, I feel i’s not going to end well at times yet again. That is what I think is a weakness in the team despite their pace.
A M (@amam)
12th February 2020, 19:08
Yet Ferrari have the fastest straight-line speed, best PU on the grid
Competition caught in 2017 & 2018. SF70H was close to Merc in 2017. Ferrari arguably had the best car in 2018. Yet Merc didn’t look to sign another driver
12th February 2020, 10:01
Two ‘Alpha’s’ in one team leads to trouble. The red mist will descend at some point and they will clash! The rest of the time they will take points off each other. So I see over the season Max and RBR will be Lewis’s main rival to the DWC. Of course if Ferrari find some vehicle advantage, it could be a repeat of 2014 with Ferrari not Mercedes on top. (Am I hedging my bets here, anyway I cant wait!!).
David BR (@david-br)
12th February 2020, 10:54
Not surprising. Leclerc was marginally ahead last year after a strong start and Vettel’s partial comeback, but Vettel is the senior 4x champion, so they kind of cancel each other out still. But any notion that this doesn’t spell trouble over the season is wishful thinking.
12th February 2020, 11:57
I fully expected this from Binotto. No way he is designating proven 4 time WDC SV to a number 2 status just because of one good but imperfect season from CL, and just because posters from their armchairs find that such a no-brainer and have so easily discarded SV into the trashbin. That’s simply not Binotto’s reality. He needs two drivers placing as high up as they possibly can, no different than any other team. Treating SV like yesterday’s news would get him nowhere. CL has not done enough from one season of seeing both their drivers surpassed by Max, to be elevated above a 4 time WDC. Not yet. Let’s take it a race at a time, like we have any other choice, and see what shakes out. Gonna be a blast.
12th February 2020, 12:15
Hahaha, can’t wait to see this go utterly wrong again. Such an unprofessional team. It is that I’ve seen it all myself cause I’d never believe it if someone told me all their unnecessary mistakes
12th February 2020, 16:47
13th February 2020, 4:45
Here we go again ! Bullets in the feet even before the first race !
Just dictate Charles Leclerc as Number 1 and Vettel as Number 2.
It is clear who is quicker, over a whole lap as an average, thus draw the line and be done with it.
10 possible race victories thrown away last season is enough proof of that.
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