The appointment of Fred Vasseur at Ferrari was reportedly set to be bad news for Carlos Sainz, who had proved that he could match and even beat Charles Leclerc towards the end of last season.
The Frenchman usually prefers to operate with a clear one and two driver pairing, rather than having the team’s energy split evenly into both drivers.
This can be seen in Vasseur’s most recent driver pairing at Alfa Romeo, where Valtteri Bottas’ experience saw him become the clear number one driver ahead of rookie Guanyu Zhou.
Despite Sainz’s undoubted quality, it seems obvious that Leclerc would be the driver favoured by Vasseur, having proven himself as a title challenger with Ferrari and being nicknamed as the team’s ‘Golden Boy’.
The fact that Leclerc worked with Vasseur during his time with Sauber also makes him the outstanding candidate to be Ferrari’s number one driver, leaving Sainz to worry about his chances of winning with the Scuderia.
Vasseur has given his Spanish driver some good news now however, telling Sky Italy that the rumours are not true, and that both drivers will receive equal treatment under his rule.
“The target of the team is to win – with Ferrari and for Ferrari, this is the policy of the team,” said the Frenchman.
“I already spoke with the drivers about this. It’s crystal clear that we’ll give them exactly the same treatment and we’ll support both of them in the same way.
“For sure, if at one stage during the season, one is in a much better place to fight for the championship, we’ll have to take action, but it’s not that one will be the number one from the beginning of the season.
“This can’t work because you never know what will happen, and we have to do the best for the team, not the drivers.”
Ferrari are currently undertaking a ‘wake up test’ near their factory in Maranello, giving Vasseur three days to see his drivers in action in last year’s car, before heading off to Bahrain for pre-season testing.
The Scuderia will be hoping to go one step further this year and beat Red Bull, who got the better of them in both championships last time out.