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16th August 2022, 7:0015th August 2022, 14:26 | Written by Keith Collantine
It’s not uncommon for the ‘two’ in a one-two finish to voice some disappointment, and so it was when Carlos Sainz Jnr followed his Ferrari team mate home in the opening race of 2022.
Before the Safety Car came out late in the race, Charles Leclerc built up a lead of around 20 seconds over his pursuing team mate, who afterwards admitted he wasn’t fully comfortable in the F1-75 yet.
The following races showed he was hardly exaggerating. Sainz started in the midfield in Melbourne and spun out early on. At the next race he tangled with Daniel Ricciardo at the start and chalked up another retirement. There was a spin in Spain and a practice smash in Miami. Meanwhile Leclerc sprinted away to a healthy early championship lead.
Reliability problems and strategy errors went a long way towards erasing Ferrari’s advantage over Red Bull. But another problem for Leclerc has been the growing competitiveness of his team mate. While Sergio Perez has fallen away from Max Verstappen, Sainz is increasingly a problem Leclerc has to deal with on-track.
This was especially clear at Silverstone, where Leclerc spent around 20 laps urging his team to move Sainz out of his way. The pair cost each other time in the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race as well. Ferrari’s willingness to let their drivers fight for position is commendable, but it stands in contrast to Red Bull’s readiness to call on Perez to play the team game.
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Sainz has also brought himself into contention by prodding the Ferrari pit wall in the right direction when needed. While Leclerc wasted time switching to intermediates in Monaco, Sainz agitated his team not to make the same decision. At the last race in Hungary it was Leclerc, not Sainz, who ended up on the hard tyres which ruined his race, and no doubt left him wishing he’d been more forceful on the radio.
But the underlying problem for Leclerc is that his team mate has found his form. Sainz out-scored him in their first year together last season, and while that looked unlikely to recur half-a-dozen races into 2022, only 18 points separate them now.
Leclerc’s title hopes lie in tatters as the last race has left him with an 80-point deficit to Verstappen. If he is to have any chance of closing on the Red Bull driver, he first needs to beat his team mate, and that has become much more difficult in the last few races.
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16th August 2022, 7:41
While Leclerc seems to be the better driver, Sainz seems to be the better leader. Which is indeed unfortunate for Ferrari.
16th August 2022, 17:22
I wouldn’t say he’s a better leader. A leader leads.
But he for sure seems much more aware of the people he’s surrounded with than Leclerc, who follows their instructions blindly then cries because it was stupid.
16th August 2022, 20:38
Leclerc has been struggling with his driving mistakes while Sainz has been struggling with getting used to this year’s car. If Sainz continues improving his skills with this car and Leclerc doesn’t mature, Sainz will be the leader as he was in McLaren.
16th August 2022, 7:54
Funny how the article is formulated as if it is Leclerc’s right to challenge for that title and be the no. 1 at the team. Sure, he is the faster of them, able to get magic out of the car quite often. And he is really good at racing, attacking and defending.
But just like Ferrari as a team have things they badly need to do – get a strategist who actually watches what is going on out there on track and react/predict and be flexible AND learn how to do that in a timely manner, sort out their reliability – Leclerc has to learn as well. He does seem to have gotten over the thing where he went through his tyres a lot faster, but yes, he needs to be the one to tell his team what he wants, has to read he races himself.
We’ve seen the likes of Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, and Verstappen as well do that – ask about where the race is going, watching what was going on off the big screens and anticipating etc. Sainz seems also capable of doing that, and it helps him even out the lack of top performance with his teammate.
This year the title is out of their hands. Ferrari should stop overthinking their races. Just get out there, make the car fast, focus on having their drivers get the most out of it on saturday and prepare for sunday. And on sunday cut the mistakes, make timely decisions and get the drivers’ imput in the loop. If that all works, they might have another shot (if things go south reliability wise at Red Bull) or at least can stay ahead of a slower but far more consistently scoring Mercedes team
16th August 2022, 8:20
Realistically, the gap between Sainz and Leclerc over the first 5 races should have been the cue for Ferrari to take charge and sit Sainz down and tell him “Look, Max is a really strong challenger to us, if we have any chance of challenging for the WDC we cannot have two drivers competing for wins and positions internally, so unfortunately this year we need you to be the supporting driver to Charles. That means moving out of the way for him on track so we can maximize his points haul. That means he gets the preferential pit stop treatment. We’re sorry, but that’s just how it is.”
It’s one of their bigger failures that they either didn’t care to challenge for the WDC against Max, or thought Leclerc could just beat Sainz on-track without much of an issue.
You can only field two WDC challengers in a single team if your engine advantage puts your entire team a second ahead of everyone else. You can’t fight another team on equal footing when they do have a single driver that wins at every opportunity given to them. Ferrari should know this better than anyone, because their last WDC title was precisely because the other team had two dogs fighting over one bone and Ferrari ran away with it.
16th August 2022, 8:34
That makes sense, but only when you are looking it from the perspective of KNOWING that you can win the championship, and can win it with Charles @sjaakfoo. But Sainz has shown that he has a skill Leclerc misses. And one that is quite important to the team. Not to mention, they need a competative driver in the other car to back up their championship challenger. It works with Perez, since he accepts that he is the second driver – he knows he cannot match Max and he is happy to have a chance to drive for podiums and the occasional win. Sainz is still on the trajectory where he is fighting to be that championship challenger himself. Telling him to just accept being second wouldn’t work. If they wanted that they should have signed a different driver.
Neither the team, nor really Leclerc himself were ready to be fighting for the championship. We rightly critisize Sainz for not quite being at his team mates pace in qualifying and lacking somewhat in many races as well. But Leclerc while fast, also still has to learn to not make stupid mistakes under pressure, to have a broader overview of what is going on to be able to push the strategy, and he has to keep up his tyre management. And then they need a better team, but that is not something the drivers can easily change.
But now, if the current trend continues, it could well be that Sainz scores more than Charles in the second half of the season and ends up ahead.
16th August 2022, 11:05
While drivers like Vettel, Verstappen, Hamilton and especially Alonso have shown over the years their ability to read the race strategic wise and sometimes take matters into their own hands. That doesn’t mean that this is the driving standard any driver contender should have. The driver must give his team the correct feedback which will serve as input for the team to formulate the correct strategy.
Leclerc in Hungary has told his team that he can go longer with the same pace for at least 8 laps. The team told him to pit a lap later. What else he could have done ? All the drivers mentioned with the exception of Alonso work in the same manner. Alonso is a master chess player and he has aa superior mental capacity that enables him most of the times to be master of his own destiny.
Hamilton giving always feedback to Bono regard to his tyres, Verstappen with GP, Vettel with Adami and Rocquelin. You don’t see Hamilton telling Bono my tyres are good and Bono decides to stop him a lap later. Sometimes, Hamilton issues messages type “My tyres are shot” to mislead the opposition but the intent is clear for the team and they never go against his will. Besides, sometimes Hamilton wrongly questions his team’s winning strategy Hungary 2019, Barcelona 2021…
We rightly critisize Sainz for not quite being at his team mates pace in qualifying and lacking somewhat in many races as well. But Leclerc while fast, also still has to learn to not make stupid mistakes under pressure
Sainz while being slow has made a lot more mistakes than Leclerc who was extracting everything possible from the car and was always involved in tense battles against Verstappen. Leclerc made two costly mistakes while pushing in both Imola and France. Verstappen who is currently the reference driver has equally made two mistakes that went unpunished in both Spain and Hungary. Sainz even in the race he won in Silverstone was pathetically slow and made a silly mistake when he was pressured by Max for a couple of laps and lost the lead.
The Ferrari decisions going in the direction of Sainz has nothing to do with his leadership. It has more to do with his father’s connections with the Agnelli family and his influence over a lot of Ferrari engineers. Don’t forget that Ferrari current sporting director and head of strategy Inaki Rueda is Spanish. Carlos Sainz sr involvement in his son’s career is well documented since the Toro Rosso years. That’s why he was in constant conflict with Jos Verstappen who was protecting Max from Sainz sr toxicity.
16th August 2022, 12:50
so you have access to all of Ferrari’s radio calls in real time? bizarre commentary i just read.
16th August 2022, 15:02
That access to team radio is part of what makes F1 TV a solid product.
16th August 2022, 15:28
so you have access to all of Ferrari’s radio calls in real time?
All have access, except those too stingy to pay for F1TVPro 😛
16th August 2022, 15:50
Where in my comment I have said that I have had access to all of Ferrari’s radio calls in real time ? Besides have you read what the folks said about the F1 TV in their comments below. Moreover, radio transcripts have been available on Racefans since the 2017 on a race by race basis and on a casual occasions from a decade ago on various racing forums and magazines.
bizarre commentary i just read.
Read again !
16th August 2022, 16:16
Ferrari radio transcript :
16th August 2022, 12:50
Leclerc in Hungary has told his team that he can go longer with the same pace for at least 8 laps. The team told him to pit a lap later. What else he could have done ?
What else could he have done? He could have stayed out. As you yourself mention, Alonso does this. But Hamilton has done this as well. Others have been far more clear in their message that NO, they wanted to continue, including Sainz.
I don’t blame Leclerc for it, but it IS one thing he will probably need to learn to do more often. And Ferrari needs to learn to listen to their drivers (and to look at reality on track) if they want to achieve in the championship.
I have noticed that you seem to have developed a strong dislike for Sainz, but if all you mention is true there (about the backgrounds) then who knows, maybe Sainz AND these connections offer the better perspective for achieving with Ferrari! We all know that having that backing and the support team was key for how Schumacher got the team to success.
As for Jos and Sainz Sr. – yeah but let us not forget both of them played a role there. By know we all know how Jos behaves when angry and pushing for what he wants. I am sure Sainz Sr. didn’t become a multiple champion by NOT being manipulative and pushy to get what he wants. It is the same we see with Alonso. And it is what brought Todt success as well as many others like Prost, like Senna etc.
16th August 2022, 16:44
As I told you, Alonso is exceptional. You can’t expect every driver to have the same IQ as him. One of the reasons Alonso has developed this particular skill starting from the 2011 is that he himself has lost a championship in the final race with a suicidal strategy call. As for Hamilton, many times he have made the right call but sometimes he was wrongly criticizing his team in the radio meanwhile they have put him on a winning strategy.
What else could he have done? He could have stayed out
It was obvious for everyone watching from the outside that the hards were a no-go. Even the other drivers that were aware of the issue have been briefed about it by their teams and avoided making the same mistake. I understand that you mean Leclerc should disobey any instruction coming from the pitlane ?
He can’t do that. Ferrari do have the team orders culture since the 50s. Sainz is getting away with it thanks to the special status he enjoys with the team. He could have been in serious trouble ignoring a team order with someone like Todt in charge. I don’t think that Leclerc who was publicly reprimanded by Binotto after the British GP have the same privilege.
I have noticed that you seem to have developed a strong dislike for Sainz
You are correct ! I think we have had a discussion 2 or 3 months ago before the recent strategic blunders where I said that there is an unjustified bias from the team towards Sainz. The comparison with Schumacher is unfair. Schumacher has been known from his Benetton days for being an even more technical driver and data driven than both Senna and Prost.
He has been known for his quality feedback and the trust the engineers have in him enabled the Benetton team to do changes on the fly in testing or practise sessions at Schumacher’s request without even having to download the telemetry from the car.
This is apart from his exceptional ability to extract all of the pace available and even more from his car. So the engineers and the team were naturally coming around Schumacher and not through shady politics. In Ferrari, Schumacher used to live most of the time in Enzo’s home inside the factory ! That was mind blowing stuff for someone that was paid ~25 million £ a year in 1996.
Sainz is slow unreliable and cannot be counted on to bring the results. Leclerc on the other hand is arguably the fastest man in F1 and have already shown his material. Ferrari are backing the wrong driver not knowing that even with the fastest car and the best strategy it’s bloody difficult to compete with RBR and Max Verstappen.
For this reason alone, the team should back Leclerc who is the only driver in the paddock that can go wheel to wheel against Verstappen. As seen in the British GP a couple of laps seeing Max in his mirrors were more than enough for Sainz to make a silly mistake.
16th August 2022, 8:05
In short: Stop inventing!
16th August 2022, 10:22
Neither Ferrari driver has any hope of the WDC and Ferrari will not Finnish in front of Mercedes for the WCC. Ferrari F1 needs a shake-up but…
16th August 2022, 10:59
It’s a bit awkward to consider how many races Leclerc could have won if not for x, y, or z. Considering the budget, facilities and experience – Ferrari’s now 14 year title drought is quite embarrassing.
That a team like Ferrari openly states they’re not trying to win the title (Binotto in Canada), and even actively messes up their better performing drivers race (English GP, arguably Hungary as well) is very unfortunate for F1.
This year could and should have been a next-generation battle between Verstappen and Leclerc.
16th August 2022, 17:04
Considering the budget, facilities and experience – Ferrari’s now 14 year title drought is quite embarrassing.
Oh please, are we still rolling this saying from the 70s…. in 2022?!? This is not real anymore for decades. Tell me what McLaren lacks in comparison since the 90s if not even the 80s?? Actually, on the human resources department, the British School obviously provided more and better qualified people most of the time, which compensated for the smaller sums of money available. Companies like Mercedes, Honda, Renault, even Porsche nowadays, are much bigger than Ferrari, therefore the possibilities exponantially bigger.
16th August 2022, 17:34
Ferrari, so far as the reporting has been able to reconstruct, has had budgets right up there with the biggest teams throughout the last decades. Whatever it is they’ve spend it on, the money hasn’t been a problem. And there’s only so much road car knowledge that’s relevant to F1, so Ferrari being a relatively small company doesn’t necessarily limit their F1 team. Outside of the highly complex engines F1 cars are in many ways quite simplistic, and a lot of the last 20 years of road car development done by the likes of Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault, Mercedes etc. has gone into things that are either irrelevant for F1 or have been outright banned (from advanced automatic transmissions, stability systems, traction control, etc.).
Ferrari’s failure to be competitive isn’t unique of course, and Renault/Alpine’s failure is arguably even worse given that they – unlike Ferrari – have only been picking up a random fluke win since the late ’00s despite also having full control over their engine and car development. That McLaren and other client teams can’t win isn’t surprising in a manufacturer-dominated series. It’s therefore great to see them branch out to other series where the odds aren’t so stacked against them.
16th August 2022, 11:24
Sainz is the perfect politician. Not enough skills but uses contacts and charm to position himself as something bigger.
16th August 2022, 12:48
really? and still capable of pole positions and winning f1 races? multi talented unlike other drivers then.
16th August 2022, 13:57
No he is not, his win was a fluke, like Ocon or Gasly, difference is the ferrari is a race winning car whereas the others were not.
16th August 2022, 15:00
Sainz has only one of each. While the pole was fair enough, if a bit lucky, the win took a rather questionable set of decisions by Binotto’s men.
I’ll be pleased to see more Sainz wins, but the points table doesn’t tell the whole story about his (lack of) pace compared to Leclerc this season.
16th August 2022, 16:53
and still capable of pole positions and winning f1 races
Just to clarify, a single pole position and a single win in arguably the fastest all around car and also thanks to the team sabotaging his teammate’s race and to Verstappen’s car failure.
16th August 2022, 23:52
Yes, not impressed, agree the pole was a little more on merit.
Jordi Casademunt (@casjo)
16th August 2022, 11:33
How many race wins has Leclerc potentially lost from mechanical issues/strategy mistakes/slow pit stops/driver mistakes? At least 5 (fighting for the win at Spain and Azerbaijan, leading at Monaco and Silverstone, crashed while fighting for the lead at France).
How many race wins has Sainz potentially lost from mechanical issues/strategy mistakes/slow pit stops/driver mistakes?
16th August 2022, 12:43
To finish first, first you have to finish. But although Sainz is slightly slower overall, it is not by much, he had bad luck too that would have hurt his confidence A LOT. Now he looks on pace with Leclerc which is a solid mental recovery. The differences in their speed is applified by being in a top team. Sainz is actually a great driver, as is Leclerc, and i think you are looking at it too deaply like it is some bitter title fight rivalry between the 2. lets see how the second half of the season plays out.
16th August 2022, 13:14
Wrong stats. It’s 10-3 in qualifying in favour of Leclerc.
16th August 2022, 13:45
Sainz jnr is always happy to let Max tag into Leclerc’s back, his defiance of ferrari in Monaco contributed to the team sabotaging leclerc’s race, silverstone is another mess where Sainz jnr is involved.
Sainz jnr is too slow and a poisonous team mate. Somehow they are close in stats but very far on pace, consistently .2 to .4 slower on both Q and Race.
16th August 2022, 17:54
He knows that if Leclerc wins the WDC, it’s over for him, at least there. Wingman stamp would be all over him.
So, if Max can bag it with races to spare, it’s better.
Then he can start fresh next season hoping to be better.
16th August 2022, 17:12
This is one of the most one sided clashes on the grid, yet people still buy into Sainz being a talent for who knows what reason.
Just look at how many times he was in contention to win a race all season : 2 times. Canada and Britain.
And both helped by late safety cars that brought him back to races he had already lost by his own inability to keep up with the best drivers.
16th August 2022, 19:29
A resurgent Sainz is just what Leclerc needs. With Ferrari’s unreliability they both need to beat Verstappen in every race they finish for Leclerc to win the title. They can sort out team orders etc if they get in that position. Otherwise they might as well just race each other.
16th August 2022, 19:57
The real battle is a 5 way scrap for second-sixth between Leclerc, Perez, Russell, Sainz and Hamilton as they are separated by 32 points. Verstappen is 80 points ahead of Leclerc.
16th August 2022, 21:06
I agree with you!
LEC is faster enough to make it stick without Ferrari help. The problem, though, should be if Ferrari tips the scales to help SAI, even though they don’t plan on screwing Charles over. Because we all know that’s what gonna happen anyway.
Green Flag (@greenflag)
16th August 2022, 19:54
Ferrari have let Leclerc down this year. Had they regularly favored him over Sainz they’d be in a better position in both championships. Leclerc has a better chance of winning against Verstappen and Hamilton than Sainz will over the next 9 races. Ferrari needs to give him that opportunity.
Mark in Florida
16th August 2022, 21:19
Sainz is a journeyman driver at best. Given the right opportunity and setting he can win. He’s not spectacularly fast in my opinion. Leclerc has been held back by Binotto bad pit strategies and flat out incompetent race calls.
It’s almost as if he hates Charles. He reams him out on TV after the team blew the race for him. As if it we’re Charles fault for them throwing away the race. Binnochio is constantly giving Sainz the preferred pit stops and tires even when he’s not in the lead. How is Charles going to be able to win a race when he not only has to beat Sainz but the whole team as well! It’s simply too much to overcome for one person. He’s better off going to another team and letting Ferrari wallow in the incompetence along with Sainz as their lead driver. Maybe they can hire Lance Stroll to drive for them, that way Carlos can always look good but never win.
16th August 2022, 23:56
Binotto doesn’t deserve a driver like leclerc, that’s for sure, problem is leclerc has no other decent car to go to, unless red bull want to go with 2 roosters, but don’t see that since perez improved this year.
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