Leclerc: Ferrari right to give drivers equal status


Charles Leclerc says he supports Ferrari's decision to put both himself and teammate Carlos Sainz on equal footing in the first part of the season.

Leclerc outscored Sainz in the Drivers' championship last season and delivered three wins to the Scuderia versus the Spaniard's single victory, a track record that could have encouraged Ferrari to give a privileged status to the Monegasque.

But Scuderia boss Fred Vasseur stated last month that there would be no number one driver at the Italian outfit at the start of the team's 2023 campaign.

However, Vasseur suggested that Ferrari's driver policy could change later in the season depending on circumstances, at which point he could "take action".

"No I completely agree with this philosophy, you cannot start a year like this," Leclerc said after Monday's presentation in Maranello of Ferrari's new SF-23.

"I think it’s important for Carlos and I to be fully motivated to do the best job possible in the first part of the season, to push each other to perform the best.

"Then if at one point in the championship a driver is fully in the fight for winning that championship then I’m sure the team will do everything possible for the driver that fighting for the championship to be in the best possible conditions.

"For this we’ll talk later obviously, but at the beginning of the season I think it’s the right thing to do."

“It’s very difficult to predict. I’m sure we did a good job with the car but I really don’t know where Red Bull is at and I don’t know where Mercedes is at to be honest – I expect Mercedes to be strong too."

Leclerc steered clear of making any bold predictions regarding the start of Ferrari's. But the 25-year-old encouraged his team to stay the course regardless of how the first few races pan out.

"One thing for sure is that, especially after a year like last year, wherever we are in the first race doesn’t mean it’s finished and that goes both in ways – if we are winning the first race that doesn’t mean it will be the same until the end of the season and vice versa if we have a bad first race then we should definitely keep pushing because everything is possible," he said.

"I am sure we will have a competitive car but let’s wait and see how the other teams did.

"I think comparisons always exist and we need to live with them, but I don’t think it will affect us. What I think from the first few races is difficult to know for now.

"For sure I will know after the first days of testing in Bahrain when we understand a little bit of our weaknesses and where we are compared to the others, even thought during testing it’s always very difficult to have a clear read on where we are, but we will have a bit more of a clear mind."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter