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Formula 1

Interview: Binotto praises Verstappen but downplays signing him in near future

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Mattia Binotto has spoken about the esteem Ferrari have for Max Verstappen but admitted he's not an option as a driver signing...for now

Interview
To news overview © Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has explained that Max Verstappen isn't an option to sign to the team in the short to medium-term future, and also explained the decision process behind dropping Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari announced they wouldn't renew Vettel's contract last year, signing Carlos Sainz instead, and Binotto has explained that their driver line-up now means that Max Verstappen isn't a likely candidate for a seat any time soon.

"Honestly, I think that we've got the line-up of drivers today, which we are very happy with," Binotto explained to RacingNews365.com.

With Charles Leclerc on a long-term five year deal, and Sainz on a two year deal, Binotto shot down the chance that Verstappen could switch from Red Bull in the short-term future.

"We have invested a lot on Charles and I think Charles is a fantastic talent and it's our investment," he said.

"And Carlos is doing very well. So certainly in the near future, that's not a question. On the other side of things that Max is a fantastic driver. He's very talented as well. He's very fast, I think he is a good boy. So no doubt that Max is.. we esteem him. But as I said, certainly for the short term, medium term, we've got our lineup which is done."

Having had four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel on their books before making the decision to drop him for 2021 after not opening contract talks, Binotto explained that the on-track problems between the German and Monegasque hadn't been the deciding factor.

Vettel and Leclerc went head to head on a few occasions in 2019, including a contentious weekend in Russia where Vettel appeared to ignore team instructions early in the race, as well as a clash between the pair in Brazil that resulted in a double retirement.

"No, no, no. What happened in '19 has not been the reason," Binotto denied.

At the time of Ferrari's announcement of their intent for 2021, Vettel was left with few options to find a seat. The German eventually managed to find one, as Racing Point opted to replace Sergio Perez for him to spearhead their rebrand to Aston Martin.

"I think that when we had the lockdown start of last year, it was the time for us to decide," Binotto said. And it was even important to decide very soon in the year for simply for full respect to ourselves and Sebastian to give him the opportunity to find another seat and, on the fact that today he is driving the Aston Martin, I'm very happy with that.

"I think it was lucky enough we decided very soon. So, for us, it was the right time, start of the season during the lockdown to decide and that has been the time where we really consider all the options and we made our decision."

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