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Berger: Ferrari F1 wrong to favour Vettel over Leclerc early on

Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger believes Ferrari is wrong to favour Sebastian Vettel over Charles Leclerc so early in the 2019 season

Team boss Mattia Binotto has made it clear since testing that Vettel would have priority in any "50/50" situation because his experience as a four-time world champion means that Vettel is the most realistic title contender.

In China last weekend Leclerc was told to let Vettel by for third and the Ferrari newcomer ultimately fell back to fifth place.

Berger, a race winner for Ferrari in his F1 career, said: "As much as I like Sebastian, and as much as I rate him, here's a boy [in Leclerc] who is capable [enough] to win the world championship.

"I don't think it's enough to say, 'This one is experienced, this one is not experienced, so we take the card of experience.' I think they got it wrong.

"Saying this, you always have to discuss this point in a different way - it depends where you are in the season.

"Last year, when we were in Monza, [Maurizio] Arrivabene said we let everything run open [in the case of team orders] when the championship was already going into the final stage.

"It was clear that if somebody has a chance it's not [Kimi] Raikkonen, it's Sebastian.

"So there I would react the other way. It's a question of when it is and is it giving somebody even a chance not to win the championship?

"And if you do it in the first or second race, I don't agree." Berger added that Vettel has a "difficult role at the moment" because there is pressure from Leclerc, as well as the need to beat Hamilton to secure a fifth title.

The DTM boss, pictured above in 1994, also said that Ferrari was right to place Leclerc into a Ferrari seat for 2019, even if it has made life difficult for Binotto.

"In all cases Williams, in all cases Ferrari, always put the two best guys in the car and let's ensure that the lemon is squeezed to the maximum. And Ron [Dennis did] the same," said Berger.

"For me, that's the right way to do it. There was the opportunity now with Leclerc, it was clear to see that there was somebody very talented.

"It was just the right timing and the right decision."

Berger praised the current generation of young talent that is coming through.

He said: "He [Leclerc] is an outstanding boy as much as we talked two or three years ago about Verstappen. He has a different style.

"And the other guy who impressed me in the first two or three races when I didn't expect him to be that strong was [Lando] Norris.

"It's great to see some young ones coming [and performing]."

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