Sky F1’s Jenson Button believes Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will form a more formidable pairing in their second year as Ferrari team-mates.
Ahead of the launch of the 2020 Ferrari in Italy on Tuesday evening, live on Sky Sports F1 and digital platforms, the former F1 driver has predicted that the Sebastian Vettel-Charles Leclerc partnership will prove more advantageous for the team on track this season.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the 2009 world champion said: “They had a few incidents in 2019, hopefully this year that won’t be the case. They are both very quick.
“I think last year they were both trying to find their position in the team. The new guy coming in, Charles Leclerc, and getting more pole positions than anyone, and Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion – “Two very talented drivers and I think after that first year together now they can really work as a team and focus on fighting Mercedes, not just fighting each other.”
Button on managing two star drivers
After four years as Ferrari’s established and recognised number one next to Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel found himself outperformed more regularly on track in 2019 with Leclerc becoming just the second team-mate to outscore the German over an F1 season – a performance Button believes was “exceptional”.
Charles Leclerc, who also claimed more wins in 2019, has now signed a long-term deal to the end of 2024. Asked how difficult it was to have two star drivers in the same team, Button said: “It’s a tough one, but it needs to be managed well and I don’t think it was maybe at certain points last year within Ferrari.
“I think Sebastian now understands how quick his team-mate is and I think they’ll have a much better relationship this year. They obviously want to beat each other but I do think that pairing is very strong. In terms of setting up a car, Sebastian looks very good at doing that. He spends more hours than anyone with the engineers and trying to fine-tune things here and there. When there’s a young gun in your team – we found it with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton when they were team-mates in McLaren – it does hurt the experienced driver a little bit. But once you get over that and look at him as an equal it’s very different and I think they will work well together. I hope they do, because it’s important for the championship.” – he added.
Button also believes 2020 represents a crucial year for Vettel, whose current deal expires at the end of the season: “It’s an important year for him,” added Button. “Last year he got beaten by his team-mate on points – this year he’s really got to go out there and show what he can do. If he does, he’ll be fighting for that world championship.”