Ferrari could scrap Vettel priority policy if Leclerc outperforms

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Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says the Scuderia could switch its focus to Charles Leclerc later this year if circumstances warrant that the Monegasque be given priority over Sebastian Vettel.

Before the start of this season's campaign, Binotto revealed that Vettel, as Ferrari's senior driver, would be given priority over his team mate in a "50-50" situation that would require the Scuderia to make a call.

Melbourne and Bahrain offered a glimpse of a potential shift of the balance of power at the Italian outfit, with Leclerc remaining behind Vettel in Australia as the result of a team order but clearly outpacing the German at Sakhir.

Should Leclerc continue to chip away at Vettel's de facto status, Ferrari would consider putting its focus on its young charger.

"As I said at the start of the season, if there is any 50-50 situation where we need to take a decision, that advantage will be given to Sebastian simply because Sebastian has got the most experience in the team in F1," said Binotto.

"He won four championships and certainly for us he is the driver who has got the most probability to challenge for the title.

"If - something we agreed with both drivers - in a few races’ time, things may change for whatever reasons, bad luck or whatever could be the situation, we may change our position on that.

“But on the track they are free to fight, on the track I think if there is one driver who is certainly faster he will get the advantage.

"And I think that Charles, as a matter of fact, had the opportunity to be on pole in Bahrain, he had the opportunity to fight for the winning position in Bahrain."

Leclerc's set-back in Bahrain was a bitter blow for a 21-year-old on the verge of his maiden Grand Prix win. But Binotto was impressed with his driver's reaction to the hardship.

"Losing was tough, but even more probably frustrating. But that has given us even more of a boost for the following races and for here in China," Binotto said.

"To Charles, what I told him is that I think he did a great quali and great race, but more than that I think he has been fantastic in the post-race comments.

"It shows that he is a really mature driver. So I simply told him ‘good job,’ but I’m more happy for what he did after the race than during the entire weekend. And that’s enough, because all of us are simply looking ahead and at the next challenge."

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