Vettel-Ferrari union continues to break down as Leclerc emerges as team's leader

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Charles Leclerc (Clive Mason / Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc (Clive Mason / Getty Images)
Clive Mason

• Ferrari considerably slower than rivals in 2020

• Team boss has more praise for Leclerc than Vettel

• Ferrari plans updates for next two races

Sebastian Vettel's relationship with Ferrari continued to deteriorate after the 2020 season re-start in Austria.

It was the first race weekend since the Maranello team made the decision to oust the quadruple world champion at the end of the year.

The event finally made clear the extent of Ferrari's problems with its 2020 car, with Vettel not even making it into the top ten segment in qualifying.

Team boss Mattia Binotto said: "We are missing a second to pole - seven tenths on the straights alone."

'Considerably slower'

But amid rumours Ferrari's engine design was hobbled as a result of the cheating scandal, reporters pointed out that the new car was actually considerably slower than its predecessor in Austria a year ago.

Binotto insisted: "We compare ourselves with the competition, not with the previous year."

He says the problem is "a combination of the engine and aerodynamics", and said some new parts will arrive for the next race in Austria, and then a bigger update is set for Hungary.

The Italian warned: "But it will not be a final solution. The engine is frozen for this year and we will not be able to reduce the drag so quickly either."

Widening divide

However, the situation is also widening the obvious divide between Vettel and Ferrari.

Hailing Charles Leclerc for "fighting like a lion" en route to an unexpected podium, Binotto was far less forthcoming with praise for the German.

"It was certainly not his best race today," he told Sky Italia when asked about Vettel. "He said the car was less driveable than it was on Friday. As far as the spin (with Carlos Sainz) is concerned, it wasn't a great move by him and he is aware of that. I think it's a shame because today would have been important to score points, especially when our direct competitors could not."

For his part, Vettel denied fault for his poor race.

"Something was wrong with the car," he said. "I had no confidence and I am even glad that I only spun once."

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