Speaking at the launch of his team’s 2020 contender, Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto dismissed talk of the Maranello outfit making a bid for Lewis Hamilton anytime soon, insisting that Sebastian Vettel remains the preferred option.
“Seb is our first choice at the moment,” Binotto told reporters. “Obviously it is something we are discussing with him and we will continue discussing, but he is certainly our first option, our preference.
“We are focused on our drivers,” he added. “And we are considering Seb as our option at the moment.”
With Vettel, like Hamilton, in the final year of his current contract, Binotto doesn’t feel there is any real urgency to the situation.
“I think it’s firstly a common decision, something we will discuss together,” he said. “It will take the time that is needed.
“Obviously now we are focused on the car, we are focused on what will be the winter testing and the first races, and there will be a proper time for the rest.”
Asked if he hopes to stay with Ferrari, Vettel said: “I feel young enough.
“You spoke about Lewis, he’s even older,” he added. “So that’s not a limitation. So yeah, happy to keep going.”
Of course, one of the factor that could decide the issue, for Vettel or indeed Ferrari, is how the relationship between its two drivers develops, especially after the coming together in Brazil.
Whereas a year ago Binotto said that Vettel would be given preference, this time around the pair will be equal, and, free to race.
“Last year we said Seb would have been first driver, and Charles second,” said the Italian. “I think that after a year both have shown they can fight for the best result so they will be on the same level. Let’s say they can both fight for being ahead and that’s it. So let them race.”
“We both learned the lesson what happened in Brazil,” said Leclerc. “We are free to race but we are also team mates.
“A lot of people work on the car, we are a team, and things in Brazil shouldn’t happen. I’ve learned from it. The margins will probably be a bit bigger.”
“It’s not like I had a different car,” added Vettel. “We both have the same car, and the same chance to race well. I never doubted that, I don’t think Charles did either. It doesn’t change anything. Starting on equal terms, we were last year, we are this year as well.”