Ferrari will prioritise Vettel early in 2019 F1 season if necessary

Ferrari is willing to prioritise Sebastian Vettel over his new Formula 1 team-mate Charles Leclerc if required in the early stages of the 2019 season

Ferrari will prioritise Vettel early in 2019 F1 season if necessary

Vettel, who spearheaded Ferrari's ultimately unsuccessful title challenges in the past two years, often enjoyed preferential treatment on strategy over his now-former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The team was criticised for its application of the policy last year, as it frustrated Raikkonen with overly vague instructions during the German Grand Prix and then allowed the Finn to battle Vettel at the start of the Italian GP after it had locked out the front-row.

Ferrari's hesitant approach was in sharp contrast to rival team Mercedes' handling of team orders in the Russian GP later that season, when Valtteri Bottas was asked to move aside for Lewis Hamilton while leading.

Raikkonen has been replaced by Leclerc for 2019 but, although the Monegasque has been tipped to give Vettel a tougher challenge, team boss Mattia Binotto said he would not start the season on a completely equal standing to the four-time world champion.

"I think it's normal, especially early in the season, that if there are particular situations our priority will be Sebastian," said Binotto at the launch of Ferrari's new SF90.

"He is the guide with which we aim for the championship.

"But there's no prejudice - the absolute priority is for Ferrari to win."

Vettel and Raikkonen's partnership was one of the more harmonious in the F1 paddock, but Binotto - who replaced Maurizio Arrivabene as team boss in the off-season - does not expect Leclerc's arrival to be disruptive.

"To have a driver pairing so competitive I think it's not a problem but an opportunity," Binotto said.

"Sebastian has little to prove, and he remains our guide. Charles still has to learn, as pointed out by himself, but we know how talented he is.

"I hope to have this problem of having two drivers to manage among the top positions."

After his Ferrari switch was confirmed last year, Leclerc said he would target winning the drivers' title in his first year should the team maintain its frontrunning 2018 form.

Asked at Friday's launch whether he was still thinking of the title heading into the campaign, Leclerc said: "I do not think about the championship, I have so much to do in front of me.

"I'll have a good reference thanks to Sebastian, right now I don't want to aim for anything but just to work.

"Then we'll see what will come."

shares
comments
Video: How Ferrari's 2019 Formula 1 car mixes 'extreme' and simple
Previous article

Video: How Ferrari's 2019 Formula 1 car mixes 'extreme' and simple

Next article

Ex-Williams and Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley gets new role with F1

Ex-Williams and Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley gets new role with F1
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Plus

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2022
What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility Plus

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022