Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has dismissed the notion of Sebastian Vettel becoming 'number two' driver to Charles Leclerc, despite the German being reduced to an assisting role at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Leclerc took his maiden race win, and Ferrari's first victory of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, with Vettel receiving team orders to let Leclerc through, before holding up Lewis Hamilton's late charge to help the 21-year-old further.
Vettel had qualified second on the grid behind Leclerc, but eventually finished fourth as he struggled to maintain tyre life.
Summing up the race in Belgium, former F1 racer turned pundit Martin Brundle wrote: "I knew he was going to be good, but not this good. He's effectively already the team leader as Sebastian Vettel struggles to match his speed and control."
However, Di Montezemolo – Ferrari chief during the glory years of the early 2000s – says Leclerc's success would not come without a fine performance from Vettel, who he still sees as a top driver.
"Sebastian was crucial for the victory," Di Montezemolo said at Ferrari's 90th anniversary celebrations at Milan's Piazza del Duomo.
"I think without Sebastian it was very difficult for Leclerc to win the race, very difficult, because Sebastian was able to hold back Hamilton for a few laps.
"Sebastian is for me still very, very good. I think the pair is very good. In the normal life, you have some moments with some difficulties.
"But I am sure he has all the characteristics to come back. I hope very soon, and I hope in a few days.
"Vettel is not a number two. Vettel is a number one and Leclerc is in the process to be a number one, so it is good to have two number ones."
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