Mattia Binotto has insisted Ferrari chairman John Elkann's snub of Carlos Sainz in a recent interview does not mean Charles Leclerc is the number one driver.
Elkann was discussing the Scuderia's future championship chances in conversation with La Gazzetta Della Sport after seeing this year's challenge crumble as Red Bull capitalised on Ferrari errors, reliability failures and driver mistakes.
Leclerc was hailed by Elkann as the leading driver for the Maranello-based outfit, with Sainz not even mentioned in the dialogue.
Former F1 world champion Damon Hill backed the comments as 'what a leader should do' but social media began to question how neutral the team was between the drivers.
Team principal Binotto was asked whether Elkann's comments confirmed Leclerc was the number one, to which he replied: "No, it doesn't mean that.
"What our chairman said, if you look at the current season, Charles on average has been faster than Carlos and has most often been on pole position.
"But the ambition of the two drivers, the final ambition, is to win the championship and I think Carlos is a strong racer.
"He proved it last year, in the past seasons and is still proving this season that he’s a good racer."
Insisting both drivers will be given equal chance, Binotto added: "He [Sainz] is scoring a lot of points on Sunday, he’s a good learner and he’s fast as well.
"So I think it's fair, as a team, to give them equal chance, certainly at the start of the season and through the season.
"If necessity will be there, we may designate who's got the most opportunity to win."