Sebastian Vettel still enjoys Ferrari's full backing, according to sporting director Laurent Mekies.
On the face of it, the quadruple world champion has lost status at Maranello, as Charles Leclerc successfully challenged his number 1 billing in 2019 and then secured a new five-year deal.
32-year-old Vettel's contract, on the other hand, runs out this year.
But Frenchman Mekies told the Italian magazine Autosprint that he still rates the German.
"He has natural leadership in his DNA and is a key person in our project," he said.
"He is always able to find the right words, he is calm and motivating. On paper, the longer you stay with a driver the more you get from them, and I would speak in that way about Sebastian," Mekies added.
However, while Vettel began 2019 as Ferrari's clear number 1, team boss Mattia Binotto warns that he and Leclerc will share that top status in 2020.
"They will start the season at the same level, with the team as the priority," Binotto said.
"If there is a point in the season when one of them has a big advantage in the championship, then we will look at it.
"In that scenario it would be completely normal and natural to focus on one of them to maximise our chances of winning, but for now it's too early to think about it," he added.body check tags ::