Leclerc challenge has improved Vettel, claims Ferrari boss Binotto

By Sports Desk December 26, 2019

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto believes the challenge of Charles Leclerc has been a positive for Sebastian Vettel this year.

Leclerc enjoyed a superb breakthrough season in Formula One in his second campaign, claiming two wins, seven pole positions and 10 podiums.

The youngster also outperformed his fellow Ferrari driver Vettel, finishing 24 points and one place ahead of the four-time world champion in the standings.

However, Binotto – who also said it was right for the team to allow Vettel to push for a win in the Singapore Grand Prix rather than Leclerc, who held pole position – thinks the German has benefitted from his team-mate's form.

"I think the challenge [of Leclerc] for him has been a good benchmark because having such a fast team-mate gave him some headaches," Binotto told Autosport.

"In order to improve himself, he's always very analytic. He approaches the exercise, he's not emotional in that respect, he's looking at the data, to compare the sectors, looking where he's eventually slower or faster.

"In the first part of the season, he has been put under a lot of pressure. I think he reacted very well in the second half.

"The victory in Singapore has been key for him, not only for the victory itself but the trust in the team.

"He knew that he could count on the team for help, if necessary. But I think it was right, it was the right choice and time to let him win."

Leclerc's reward for his fantastic 2019 campaign was a new contract, with Ferrari tying the 22-year-old down until 2024.

Related items

  • Ferrari fast-track car upgrades for Styrian Grand Prix Ferrari fast-track car upgrades for Styrian Grand Prix

    Ferrari will fast-track some of their car upgrades for this week's Styrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring.

    The Scuderia were scheduled to introduce aerodynamic upgrades at the Hungarian Grand Prix in round three of the Formula One campaign, having identified major shortcomings in pre-season testing.

    But they will now bring in new parts for the second of two consecutive races in Spielberg after their performance issues were even worse than initially expected in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

    It will not be the complete new package, nor will it solve their issues with straight-line speed – where Ferrari estimate they are losing 0.8 seconds per lap – but the team expect it will move Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel further up the grid.

    The drivers struggled in qualifying on Saturday, coming seventh and 11th respectively, with Vettel failing to reach Q3.

    A dramatic race which featured nine retirements and a time penalty for Lewis Hamilton then saw Leclerc claim a surprise second-place finish, with Vettel taking a solitary point in 10th.

    "The SF1000 didn't measure up, even compared to [the lowered] expectations ahead of the event," read a statement from Ferrari.

    "Because of this, development has already been going on at full pace for some time.

    "This is in the hope of bringing forward to next weekend the introduction of the aerodynamic package scheduled for the Hungarian Grand Prix - or, at least, some of its components."

    Of the expected impact of the changes, Ferrari added: "It's not that these new parts are expected to completely bridge the gap compared to the front of the grid. 

    "But the progress in terms of lap time could allow the team to move up the order and put the drivers in a better condition to be able to display their talent.

    "Moreover, it's about checking that the chosen direction of development is the right one, precisely because it will be possible to do a true back-to-back on every upgrade."

    The move came as Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri expressed his backing for team principal Mattia Binotto.

    "We know there is lots of work to do," he said. "This is certainly not the grid position that a team like Ferrari should have and we have to respond immediately. 

    "It is clear that we have to improve on all fronts. The only solution is to react and I'm pleased by the immediate reaction and the work that Mattia and all his team are putting in at every level."

  • Bubba Wallace responds to Donald Trump with message of love Bubba Wallace responds to Donald Trump with message of love
  • President Trump calls for Bubba Wallace apology President Trump calls for Bubba Wallace apology

    United States president Donald Trump posted a tweet on Monday calling for an apology from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

    Trump, who also criticised the sport for banning the Confederate flag from its races and events, implied that NASCAR's only full-time black driver was party to a "hoax" after an incident where a rope that was tied like a noose was discovered by one of his crew members in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway on June 21.

    The following day in a demonstration of solidarity, all NASCAR drivers and crew members walked behind Wallace's number 43 car to the front of the field prior to the makeup race, and then one by one comforted an emotional Wallace and hugged him. 

    Trump's Tweet read: ''Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?''

    "That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!'' 

    Contrary to Trump's claims of a low television audiences, Fox reported ratings for last month's Cup Series race at Martinsville were up 104 per cent on the same spot in the calendar from last year.

    Chevrolet driver Tyler Reddick responded to Trump in support of Wallace.

    "We don't need an apology," he tweeted. "We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support."

    A few days after the rope was discovered, the FBI said it had been positioned in the stall at Talladega since as early as last year and was a garage-door pull rope that had been fashioned like a noose. The FBI also determined earlier in the week that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.  

    Wallace has spoken out about racial injustice and racism, and helped push NASCAR to ban the Confederate flags from its races, events and properties on June 10. 

    "I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace, who neither found nor reported the noose, told NBC’s Today in the aftermath of the incident and the FBI's investigation.

    "But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now, from people saying I’m a fake … or that I reported it when it was information that was brought to me.”

    Following George Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25, protesters have pushed for the removal of statues and monuments of known racists, as well as the Confederate flag. 

    Trump, however, criticised these protesters during his speech at Mount Rushmore over Independence Day weekend, saying: "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.