Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Mattia Binotto has rubbished any talk that Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are not getting equal machinery.
Another difficult weekend for Vettel at the Portuguese Grand Prix left the German at a loss to explain why he is so far off the pace compared to his team-mate.
Vettel’s comments have been interpreted by some as him suggesting that Ferrari may not be running its cars in the same specification for both drivers.
But Binotto has moved to shut down the conspiracy theorists, as he made clear his hope is for Vettel to lift his game so that the team can make the progress it needs to climb up the F1 world constructors’ championship order.
“Seb and Charles’ cars are identical, no doubt,” he told Sky Italia. “I sincerely hope that Sebastian will be able to qualify better in Imola, and show more of what he is capable of during the race. Charles is certainly very good, but maybe you expect even more from the second driver.”
Ferrari is currently sixth in the constructors’ championship, but being 33 points adrift of Racing Point in the battle for third, it needs both its drivers in the points to have any hope of grabbing that spot.
Vettel has expressed some growing frustration at the struggles he has faced at Ferrari, with him lacking the confidence to push the SF1000 as much as Leclerc.
Speaking to RTL after the Algarve race, Vettel was quite cryptic about why he believed he was behind Leclerc, on a day when he was at least able to finish in the points in 10th place while his team-mate finished fourth.
“On the one hand, I’m satisfied because I had the feeling that I drove a good race,” he said. “I had a hard time at the beginning, lost places, and almost lost the car two or three times. After that I actually drove a good race.
“But, on the other hand, it is obvious that the other car is much faster. Where do I lose time? I have been biting my tongue all year long. Some idiot might never figure it out, but am I a complete idiot? I doubt it.
“At some point you should be lucky and hit the limit. I never hit it and if I do, then only with a lot of difficulty. On the other side [of the garage] it looks much easier.
“I have to look at myself and do my thing, but of course it hurts. Especially because my own expectations are higher than the expectations from outside.
“I don’t really care about all the fuss. But for me in the car, it is of course difficult to process, because I am too ambitious and too hungry for more.”