Ferrari team principal, Fred Vasseur, has voiced his disagreement with the idea of having a number one driver on the team, using Mercedes’ 2016 season as an example of how this can lead to problems in Formula 1.
Vasseur has emphasized that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be treated equally by the team until a situation arises where one driver needs to be supported in a title challenge. He added that both drivers have the potential to win races for the team.
Vasseur has also stressed that it is not wise to show favouritism towards one driver over another early in the season. To support his argument, he cited the case of Nico Rosberg, who managed to win the 2016 World Championship after being defeated by his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the previous two years.
Nico Rosberg capitalized on Hamilton’s early season mechanical issues to establish a lead that he maintained for the remainder of the season. Vasseur believes that this demonstrates the folly of assigning a supporting role to one of the team’s drivers.
Vasseur argued that the story of the 2016 season shows why designating one driver as a support driver is not in the best interest of either the driver or the team. As such, he maintains that both Leclerc and Sainz will be treated as equals until circumstances require otherwise.
“I have spent 30 years on the wall with young drivers and in the junior categories there is no first and second driver. They all have the same material,” Vasseur told AS.
“If you can do it in junior categories, I can’t imagine Ferrari not having the ability to provide both drivers with the same material. It would be even more difficult not to do it.
“Then at some point in the season you may have to make a decision. If Carlos is fighting with Verstappen and you have to do the Monza slipstreaming, and they have a big points advantage over the rest, it’s easier to make decisions. We have two drivers who can win races.
“Imagine that now Pérez wins two races and Verstappen retires, fails a gearbox and gets a penalty for the next race. And after Monaco, Pérez is 100 points ahead of Verstappen.
“These situations can happen anywhere, you have to remember Rosberg and Hamilton’s season. Nobody expected him to win that World Championship and he won it.
“You have to push with both drivers and then the championship situation leads you to make decisions.
“We have two strong drivers who can score points, podiums and win races. And we have to use that as a resource. We can push hard with both of them.
“Carlos is not lacking anything. We don’t have to start saying if he lacks there or thereabouts. He used an extra set of tyres in Q2 [at Jeddah] and he didn’t have a joker in Q3.
“But it’s there, we don’t have to say if the car doesn’t fit or if Carlos is missing something.”