Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will begin the 2021 Formula 1 season with equal status, according to Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.

New driver signing Carlos Sainz will join the team as Leclerc’s teammate for next season, having replaced four-time world champion and Aston Martin-bound Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc, who comprehensively beat Vettel across the last two seasons, is heading into his third year at Ferrari, but Binotto insisted there would be no favouritism towards the Monegasque at the start of the new season.

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"There is nothing written in the contract of Charles [about] him being the leader," Binotto told reporters on Friday in a virtual video call which replaced Ferrari’s traditional Christmas media lunch.

"It is important they will not damage themselves. They will have equal opportunities at the start of the season.

"The top priority is to maximise the team points and it may be that in some races the two are accepting decisions to optimise the team's interests but by doing the team interest we are helping the driver interest.

"And later in the season if one has a clear advantage and one can achieve something the other can't, it will be an open discussion [about team orders].”

Asked what he is expected from Sainz, who joins Ferrari from McLaren after finishing sixth in the 2020 championship, Binotto replied: "I expect him to contribute to the constructors' championship. It is important to have two drivers doing very well in the car.

"By doing well in the constructors' championship, it means the two drivers are doing well in the drivers' classification. I am hoping and pretty sure that Carlos will help us in terms of doing better in terms of constructors.

"I am expecting him to be a great team-mate and I am expecting he is a hard worker. He is a leader and I expect him to help develop the team in the future."