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Ferrari won't copy Mercedes with team orders between Leclerc and Vettel

Ferrari won't copy Mercedes with team orders between Leclerc and Vettel

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Ferrari won't copy Mercedes with team orders between Leclerc and Vettel

Ferrari won't copy Mercedes with team orders between Leclerc and Vettel

Charles Leclerc will not be moved aside to give Sebastian Vettel race wins, should the situation arise in 2019, says Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. Leclerc was ordered to hold fifth position behind Vettel in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, despite being clearly quicker than the German.

Binotto said in pre-season that Vettel was Ferrari's "champion" and would hold priority over Leclerc in 2019.

However, the new man in charge at Maranello says Leclerc will not be held back in qualifying, or be ordered to step aside for Vettel, as Mercedes did to Valtteri Bottas in Russia last year to bolster Lewis Hamilton's title campaign.

"Charles is allowed to go as fast as he can. He's allowed to go for pole, he's allowed to stay ahead. We are not stopping him doing that," said Binotto.

"I think it is important that our two drivers are not fighting and taking any risks battling together.

"But no doubt, if on the first lap Charles is ahead he will stay. If at the end of the race he is ahead he will stay ahead."

After Leclerc was told not to attack Vettel in Melbourne, it puzzled many that Ferrari did not pit the Monegasque in an attempt to go for the fastest lap bonus point, with sixth-placed Kevin Magnussen a long way back.

Binotto admitted that Ferrari's decision was borne of over-cautiousness and hinted it would not be the same in the future.

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"I'm pretty sure that at the end of the season the points will make the difference," said Binotto.

"We didn't stop for new tyres with Charles, and we could have done it Australia. Why we didn't? I think because at the very first race it was not our intention to take too many risks.

"Should we have done it? Maybe yes. Honestly, I think lesson learned, it would have been safe enough to stop him and try to go for it. We will learn from that and maybe next time we will stop it."

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