'Leclerc is faster than Vettel' - Briatore tells Ferrari to change their 'number 1' driver

Ferrari should declare that Charles Leclerc is the team's new number 1 driver.

That is the view of Flavio Briatore, who famously ran teams that carried first Michael Schumacher and then Fernando Alonso to multiple titles.

Leclerc the 'better' choice

Ferrari began the year saying quadruple world champion Vettel is number 1, but as 2019 races towards the end of the calendar it is clear that Leclerc is now charging for that top status.

OPINION | Devastatingly quick Leclerc vs. Experienced Vettel - reader

"Leclerc is faster than Vettel and ready to win the title," Briatore told Italian radio Rai Gr Parlamento.


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"If I was the team principal there, I would choose him as my first driver. He may not be perfect, but he still takes the car to the finish line.

"Everyone works together as a team, but that's just talk. You have to choose a driver for the drivers' world championship otherwise you will never win it.

Vettel 'not in the picture'

"Vettel can stay because he is good, but only as the second driver," the former Renault team boss added.

In fact, Briatore does not think Vettel is even among the top three drivers on the grid today.

"I would put Verstappen, Leclerc and Hamilton at the top," he said.

"Hamilton wins not because he is the best, but because he has the best car. He is by no means unbeatable, even if he is strong and makes very few mistakes.

"But if he was put under pressure, it would be another matter."

As for Ferrari's chances of finally ending its 13-year world championship drought in 2020, Briatore is not so sure.

"We all hope they can win next year, but at the start of every year we are always hoping," he said.

Finally, Briatore was asked about Formula 2 driver Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time world champion.

"Mick is a good driver, but not at his father's level. I wish him all the best but I don't think he can be compared to his father," he said.