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Charles Leclerc told he won't be Ferrari No.1 as new chief fires warning at strategists

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Charles Leclerc has been told he will not be given special treatment over Carlos Sainz this year, as their new boss shed light on the “clear situation” at Ferrari.

Fred Vasseur is the man in charge of the Scuderia this year, after Mattia Binotto’s resignation last November. His departure came in the wake of a season in which the team flattered to deceive – they built an excellent car but still their title challenge was feeble.

Leclerc still managed second place in the championship and is the more established driver within the team, having signed a lengthy contract in 2019 to be the future of Ferrari. He also has a previous relationship with Vasseur – the Frenchman was his first boss in F1 with Alfa Romeo and previously they had success together in junior series.

Those factors have led some to the assumption that the Scuderia will turn to Leclerc as their main man. But, in his first media briefing as Ferrari chief, Vasseur insists neither of his drivers will be given more resources over the other until the circumstances makes it necessary.

“It’s a clear situation,” he told reporters. “We have two very good drivers and they are both able to do the job. We will have the capacity to provide them with exactly the same car, structure and support.

“The target is to win with Ferrari and for Ferrari. There will be no number one and number two. But if at one stage we have to take action, I will take action and it doesn’t matter if it is for one driver or the other.”

Expectation is always high at Ferrari. Many team bosses would expect to be given time to settle in to their new surroundings, but he knows full well that hitting the ground running is the minimum requirement. Vasseur, perhaps hoping to convert any doubters, says the title is the team’s only goal this year.

Fred Vasseur is the man tasked with leading Ferrari’s 2023 title challenge
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Getty Images)

To do that, their in-race strategy will have to get much better. Vasseur is giving existing staff the chance to redeem themselves after many errors last year, but has made it clear he will not hesitate to make changes if the same problems persist.

“Very often when you are speaking about strategy, you see only the visible part of the iceberg,” said the Frenchman. “Strategy is not just a matter of the guy who is at the top of the iceberg. They are the summit of organisation, communication, the flow of communication on the pit wall.

“We are in the process to review everything. It’s a bit short notice for me, but we’ll have to do some improvement. It would be arrogant from my side to take action on the technical organisation after two weeks. We have discussions to try to understand how we could improve the system, what could be the weakness of the system and to try to do a better job.

“But it’s more continuous improvement. Big changes from my point of view wouldn’t make sense. I trust the guys in place. I will try to do the best for them also, and to put them in the best condition to do the job. Then it will be time, after a couple of weeks or months, to take action if it’s not working. But I trust them.”

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