Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says the Italian outfit will never kick itself for failing to attract Lewis Hamilton to Maranello, insisting it has within its ranks the “fantastic” Charles Leclerc.
Ever since Hamilton’s maiden F1 title in 2008, the Briton was always seen as a prime candidate for a seat at Ferrari, a potential partnership considered by many as a match made in heaven.
Even in the wake of his multiple titles with the mighty Mercedes squad, the prospect of Hamilton passing through the golden gates of Maranello remained a regular story line.
In 2019, Hamilton admitted to “conversations” with Ferrari’s top brass although they never sailed past the preliminary stage.
F1’s seven-time world champion has yet to sign a new contract with Mercedes, but regardless of the outcome of the current talks between team and driver, a Hamilton-Ferrari pairing will remain an illusion.
But Binotto isn’t one to dwell on what may have been, especially with an ace up his sleeve.
“I don’t think there will be regret because at the end when we took some decisions, we took them thinking they were the right decisions and today we have a fantastic driver like Charles where we invested a lot as Ferrari,” the Scuderia boss told Sky Sports News.
“I think he’s got a lot of talent. If he’s got the right car, I’m pretty sure he can challenge Lewis Hamilton.
“We’ve made our choices, and I think together with Carlos we are very strong. I don’t think there will be any regret.”
Binotto lavished praise on Leclerc but considers the Monegasque’s sidekick, Carlos Sainz, as an equally strong asset.
“We will have a very young line-up in the future, the youngest Ferrari line-up since 1968, but those two drivers, Charles and Carlos, are very strong, very talented, and even though they are young they have some good experience in F1,” added Binotto.
“So I’m very happy for the choice.”
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Ferrari’s drivers will start the season on equal footing, with equal opportunities and “free to fight”.
“There is not a number one and number two, they will have equal opportunities – certainly at the start of the season,” said the team boss. “I’m pretty happy then that they are free to fight.
“I think what we have to do as usual is to optimise the team points, and when you optimise the team points normally you are optimising the drivers’ points as well. Team points is the number one.
“Later in the season, let’s see how things will progress, let’s see what objectives individual drivers can maybe achieve and if we need to adopt a different strategy but at the start of the season they will be free to fight.”
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