Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz, who is number one at Ferrari now? Amid rumours of a new ranking for Ferrari’s F1 drivers, team boss Fred Vasseur has raised eyebrows with comments about one of the Scuderia’s two drivers.
Almost the whole of Formula One breathed a collective sigh of relief on Sunday after Carlos Sainz crossed the line first in his Ferrari in Singapore. So there are winners other than Red Bull and/or Max Verstappen, who had won the last ten races in a row.
But that wasn’t the only lesson the F1 world took away from the Marina Bay Circuit. Sainz put an exclamation point on the team’s inter-team battle with Charles Leclerc, who was only lucky to slip from fifth to fourth in the closing stages when George Russell (Mercedes) crashed.
This will not have gone unnoticed by the Scuderia, where Leclerc has always been number one in recent years. Now, according to various reports, the Italian team has changed its mind and Sainz has overtaken Leclerc. The speculation was fuelled by Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur, who had some choice words for the Spaniard.
“It is a great feeling to win, especially after a difficult first part of the season. I’m very happy with the whole team,” Vasseur told Sky Sport Italia, adding: “We knew that Mercedes had another set of medium tyres, but Carlos was brilliant…”
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The Spaniard was “very good” at controlling the race, cleverly using Lando Norris (McLaren) as a buffer to keep the advancing Mercedes cars of Russell and Lewis Hamilton at bay by letting Norris into the DRS window, so that he could hold second place.
For Vasseur, this is one more reason to emphasize Sainz’s importance for Ferrari’s development.
“What really helps the team is Carlos and how he has changed and improved in the last few races,” said the Frenchman,
In any case, Leclerc, who has actually had the claim to be number one for years and is considered a potential world champion candidate, was only responsible for support tasks and was never able to win on the Marina Bay Street Circuit on his own. A finger pointing in the direction of the bosses.
“Both drivers are only contracted until the end of 2024. The race is on to see who will be in pole position for a three-year extension. Sainz is in the lead,” writes German F1 insider Felix Görner in his sport.de column, adding: “Leclerc makes a lot of easy mistakes and shows nerves under pressure, as he has in the past. Sainz is the more robust one.”
At the end of the Singapore weekend, Vasseur was pleased with the “really great work” done by his team, but was already looking ahead to the next race in Japan.
Suzuka is now “a different story”, said the team boss. But Sainz could suddenly find himself in the driver’s seat there.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 18, 2023
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