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Ferrari pair "free to fight" insists Binotto

NEWS STORY
19/12/2020

As Carlos Sainz officially joins Ferrari, team boss Mattia Binotto says the Spaniard will be "free to fight" with teammate Charles Leclerc next season as the team targets 3rd in the standings.

On a day Mercedes, INEOS, Red Bull and Sergio Perez grabbed the headlines, Ferrari quietly officially welcomed Carlos Sainz to the fold as the Spaniard made his first visit to the team's hallowed Maranello HQ.

The 26-year-old joins 23-year-old Charles Leclerc, giving the Italian team its youngest driver pairing since 1968, when Jacky Ickx partnered up with Chris Amon.

After meeting some of the engineers and mechanics with whom he will be working next year, Sainz was joined by Leclerc, who was at Maranello for some end-of-season meetings, before putting in an appearance in a virtual lunch meeting for journalists, along with Binotto.

"It's the first time in red, which is obviously, as you can imagine, pretty special," admitted Sainz, who finished 6th in the 2020 standings. "It's a special day for me in general. And it's probably a day I will never forget.

"I'm fully ready, fully motivated here today already, after leaving the UK yesterday," he added. "So totally new, and totally refreshed for this new challenge.

"There will be some Christmas and some holidays to disconnect, and to make sure we recharge the batteries as quick as possible. But you can be sure I'm going to be here pretty early in January to keep pushing, to keep helping this team to move forward as quick as possible in the best direction.

"I cannot wait to be honest," he grinned. "Today I had already my first meetings, my first look around the factory, and it's something that I will never forget."

There was good news for the Spaniard in the sense that Binotto insists the pair will be free to fight, dismissing suggestions that Sainz will be the de facto number two.

"There is nothing written in the contract of Charles being the leader," said the Italian. "The two will be free to fight on track.

"It's important that they are not damaging themselves, that is clear," he added, "but I think that they will have equal opportunity, certainly at the start of the season."

At the end of a season which saw Ferrari record its worst championship finish since 1980, Binotto admitted that moving forward the legendary outfit which has won 16 constructors and 15 drivers' titles over the years is targeting a modest third in the 2021 standings.

"Third is not impossible," he said, "I think that should be our minimum objective for next season."

To that end the team aims to maximise constructor points next year, consequently any decision made on the pit-wall will be with that in mind.

"Our top priority, as I said in the past - and will remain - is to optimise the team's points," he said. "So it may be that in some races, it will be important that the two are somehow helping team decisions or accepting team decisions in order to optimise what is the team's interest.

"By doing the team interest I think we are prevailing and we are helping the drivers' interest as well," he added.

"Later in the season, if there will be a clear advantage of one driver to the other and that one of the two drivers may achieve an objective which is not possible for the other, I think it will be an open discussion between the two," he said. "Then, let's see how we can eventually help each other but still to the benefit of the team. But optimising the team points is the first priority."

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1. Posted by Wokingchap, 20/12/2020 19:32

"'The two are somehow helping team decisions or accepting team decisions in order to optimise what is the team's interest.".... = team orders."

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2. Posted by Hondaunearthed, 20/12/2020 15:39

"I like that he only made reference to Charles contract, not being number 1. "

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3. Posted by @R1Racing71, 19/12/2020 18:35

"Rubbish."

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