Ferrari chief says early Vettel-Leclerc meetings were 'full of embarrassments'

By Sports Desk December 22, 2019

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has highlighted how Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel need carefully managing after admitting early meetings with the pair were "full of embarrassments".

The pair present a driver combination that has looked combustible at times, despite their undoubted individual qualities.

Team newcomer Leclerc pipped four-time world champion Vettel to fourth place in the 2019 drivers' standings, with the team second only to Mercedes for the constructors' title.

As Ferrari bid to close the gap to the dominant Silver Arrows, Binotto has given an insight into how the relationship between team management, experienced German Vettel and Monegasque prospect Leclerc developed after a difficult start.

Having to adhere strictly to dynamic team orders caused apparent consternation at times, with Vettel beginning the 2019 season as the clear senior driver before Leclerc's pace showed he may be a more likely future champion.

The matter came in for scrutiny on several occasions, and a crash between the pair that forced both to retire from the race in Brazil was perhaps the clanger of the season.

Binotto reflected on early discussions with his drivers and explained how "that type of meeting at the very start of the season was full of embarrassments and difficult to manage".

"But we are now getting used to it," Binotto said, quoted in Autosport.com and Motorsport.com.

"By the end of the season, it became comfortable more and more, which means that we are getting used to it as a team. In the race we can still make eventually mistakes but I'm pretty sure that mistakes are part of this process."

Ferrari have insisted the drivers have a stronger relationship than may have been portrayed or implied, and Binotto stressed delivering clear strategy instructions to both is essential for the continuing good of the team.

"We are still very convinced that trying to manage them is the best way in order to score team points when you get to the end of the season," Binotto said.

The 50-year-old team chief, who was heading the Ferrari squadron for the first time this year, said both Vettel and Leclerc "need to be respected as individuals" who set out to win races each time they take to the track.

And with Ferrari aiming to take the fight to Mercedes in 2020, Binotto said: "I believe that we can be stronger next year."

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