Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Mattia Binotto insists Charles Leclerc will be allowed to stay ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel in the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Leclerc, who was ordered to hold position behind Vettel in the closing stages of the season-opener in Australia despite being the quicker driver, edged Vettel by 0.294s to claim his first-ever F1 pole position during Bahrain qualifying in just his second outing for the Scuderia. 

Speaking to media on Friday ahead of the second round in Sakhir, Binotto moved to clarify Ferrari’s stance on team orders. 

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“Charles is allowed to go as fast as he can, he is allowed to try to go for pole, he is allowed to try to stay ahead and we’re not stopping him doing that,” Binotto said. 

“But I think it’s important that our two drivers are not fighting and taking any risks and crashing together. No doubt that if the first lap Charles is ahead he will stay, if at the end of the race he is ahead he will stay ahead."

Asked whether Vettel and Leclerc are free to fight each other under any circumstances, Binotto replied: “Let’s wait the next races and let’s see if there is any instances and how we will react.”

In the direct aftermath of qualifying, Leclerc said Ferrari was yet to discuss its race-day plans but vowed to “do absolutely everything” to take his first grand prix victory. 

“To be completely honest we haven’t done the pre-race meeting yet so at the moment I don’t know,” the 21-year-old Monegasque explained. 

“If you ask me, I will do absolutely everything to keep my first place but obviously we are a team and we need to work together."

Vettel added: “I think it’s pretty clear from the team’s point of view. We got the front row and [have] a very, very tough race ahead of us. I think we need to work as a team and try to make sure that we stay first and second. 

“I think it’s pretty clear. Obviously Charles starts ahead, so he has the advantage of pole position, and then we’ll see how it goes.” 

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