Charles Leclerc's seamless start to life with Ferrari through Formula 1 pre-season testing should come as no surprise as he was "simply the right choice" to drive for the Scuderia in 2019, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.

Leclerc completed his first pre-season running with Ferrari over the past two weeks ahead of his second full season in F1, having been promoted into a seat alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2019 after an impressive debut campaign with Sauber last year.

Leclerc finished testing with the third-fastest time, 0.01 seconds shy of Vettel, and impressed many throughout the paddock with his strong start to life with Ferrari.

However, it came as little surprise to Ferrari team boss Binotto, who was nevertheless encouraged by how closely matched Leclerc and Vettel were.

"Charles is a good driver, certainly a very fast driver. I think that in Barcelona he focused on himself, understanding the car, working with a new team, new engineers, and a lot of the things," Binotto said.

"They’ve done very similar lap times. I think that proves that Charles is certainly a fast driver. I think we knew it since the past. It’s now many years he’s [been] with Ferrari. he spent last year with Alfa Romeo-Sauber. So nothing with Charles is a surprise in that respect.

"It’s not the testing in Barcelona that is telling us that, that it was the right choice. It was simply the right choice. But the season will tell us a bit more."

Binotto said ahead of pre-season testing that Ferrari would give priority to Vettel in the early part of the season should a situation where it needed to manage its drivers arise, given the German's greater experience.

The Ferrari chief stressed Vettel and Leclerc were free to fight, but said it was better for the team to have clarified its stance heading into the year instead of only when problems arose.

"I think that it’s good as well for Ferrari. I think when you’ve got your intentions which are clear from the very start, at least you do not make mistakes when you have a bigger situation," Binotto said.

"Obviously they will be free to fight. We will not ask Charles to be slow or Sebastian to be fast. Both of them need to run to the maximum and try to do their best.

"But in a bigger situation at the start of the season, Sebastian is the one that has more experience. Many years he is with us. He already won championships, so he is our champion."



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