Ferrari boss Vasseur confirms no No.1 driver to begin F1 season

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Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has confirmed his drivers will have equal status to begin the new Formula 1 season.

Last year, former team boss Mattia Binotto was criticised for not favouring Charles Leclerc after the Monegasque emerged as the clear closest challenger to Max Verstappen early in the season.

The appointment of Vasseur as Binotto's successor in January was seen as a signal of Ferrari trying to build a team around Leclerc, given the long association between the two.

But the Frenchman insists any thoughts of imposing a No.1 and No.2 system will only come if the championship situation requires it.

“We are in a moment in which we cannot have favourite drivers, and there won’t be any because we have a very clear goal: for Ferrari to win,” Vasseur said.

Leclerc Sainz BahTest

“Our goal is to give both of them all the means to do a good job, but if, at some point in the season, it is necessary to push one driver more than the other to win the championship, I will make this decision without any problem.”

That will be music to the ears of Carlos Sainz, though the Spaniard maintains he had no concerns of any favouritism by Vasseur towards Leclerc 

“No,” he told Sky Sports, “not at all.

“Honestly, I’ve always got on well with my bosses in F1, and I have the confidence that as soon as Fred sees me, sees my working capabilities, but also that my speed and my talent, I am pretty sure Fred is going to respect that.

“We’re going to get on well like I get on with everyone in Formula 1.

“And the fact that he, if anything, has a good relationship with Charles I think it’s going to help him to have an influence in the team earlier on.”

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As for Leclerc, he also backs starting the year with no No.1 driver at Ferrari.

“I agree with this philosophy,” he said. “It’s important for Carlos and I to be fully motivated and do the best possible job at the start of the season and we have to push each other to perform at our best.

"If at one point in the season, one driver is clearly in contention to win the championship, I’m sure the team will do everything possible to ensure that the driver fighting for the title does so in the best possible conditions."