Carlos Sainz performance theory offered as Lewis Hamilton choice ‘the right move’

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc are currently driving under very different pressures, according to Thierry Boutsen.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are driving under “very different pressures” at the start of 2024, which might explain the gap between them.

As F1 heads to China for the fifth round of the championship, Carlos Sainz has had the upper hand on Charles Leclerc to kick off the 2024 campaign.

Thierry Boutsen: Ferrari’s drivers in two ‘very different situations’

The Spaniard started 2024 knowing that he is seeking a new job for 2025, with Ferrari having opted against renewing his contract for next season and, instead, signing Lewis Hamilton to race alongside the already-contracted Carlos Sainz.

The need to find a new job appears to have inspired Sainz who, after a strong 2023, has had the measure of Leclerc in the three weekends they’ve raced together this year.

Having missed Saudi Arabia as he needed his appendix removed, Sainz finished ahead of Leclerc in Bahrain and Japan and won the Australian Grand Prix ahead of the Monegasque in an inspired drive.

Three-time F1 Grand Prix winner and Le Mans winner Thierry Boutsen believes Sainz is doing a great job, but the difference in circumstances for the two Ferrari drivers may explain the performance gap.

“[Sainz] has been driving very well, but the car has never been very good,” Boutsen told in an exclusive interview from his offices in Monaco.

“If you see the performance of the two drivers, they’ve had ups and downs. Sometimes Leclerc is in front, sometimes it’s Sainz. Leclerc has an incredible speed in qualifying.

“When the car fits his personal speed, he’s done some magic races. When he got into Ferrari in his first year, winning at Spa and Monza, his driving was just unbelievable.

“I think he needs that type of car and to be in that type of environment to be able to win constantly.

“Sainz is in a different position, he’s never been dominating like Charles has done. When he was together with Vettel, he was dominating Vettel left and right.

“These two guys are in two very different situations, positions, and ambitions as well.

“One has got the contract signed so he takes maybe a little bit of distance to think about the future and think about how to help the team, and prepare for the future, and Sainz is there to make as much as possible in the last races with Ferrari because he has no choice.

“So the pressure is different. The mentality of the two is different. I would personally keep Charles instead of Carlos if I had a choice.”

As for the justification behind this choice, Boutsen said Leclerc has proven himself to have a higher performance level on a more consistent basis.

“If you look at the person over the years that they’ve been together, Charles has been quicker than Carlos,” he said.

“Now the situation is different, so different for the two of them, they have a different way of looking at the future. I would keep Charles for sure, he has got more speed, more potential for winning.” recommends

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Thierry Boutsen: Lewis Hamilton making ‘the right move at the right time’

With Hamilton moving across from Mercedes, ending a partnership of over a decade that made the combination the most successful in F1 history, replacing Ferrari’s top performer may appear to be bad timing for team boss Fred Vasseur – but Boutsen doubts the Frenchman will be second-guessing the choice to replace Sainz with Hamilton.

“I don’t think so,” he said when asked if Vasseur may feel he’s made a mistake.

“I think every team would like to have Hamilton driving for them.

“And, for Hamilton, it’s a very, very good opportunity to go to Ferrari – every driver in the world dreams to drive for Ferrari one day, and he does it, let’s say, towards the end of his career.

“If he waits one or two more years, the door will be closed for him. So it’s the right move at the right time for him.”

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