Carlos Sainz says the way he performed at the end of the 2021 season showed there is no team leader at Ferrari.
The Spaniard arrived at the Scuderia for this year’s campaign expected to be behind Charles Leclerc in the internal pecking order, and that was how it appeared to begin with.
But there were always indications that Sainz had settled in at his new team quicker than some of the other drivers who moved for 2021 – and that feeling grew stronger with his progress in the last few of the 22 races.
With Ferrari enjoying a performance boost thanks to an engine upgrade, not only did they leapfrog and pull away from McLaren to finish third in the Constructors’ Championship but there was an individual achievement for Sainz to be proud of.
He ended up as the highest-placed non-Mercedes or Red Bull driver in the standings, overhauling his former and present team-mates Lando Norris and Leclerc – whom he outscored by 5.5 points across the season.
Sainz finished every race, 20 of them in the points and the other two just outside in P11, with four podiums – and at the penultimate grand prix in Saudi Arabia there were the first signals that Leclerc was becoming frustrated as he defended position aggressively against his team-mate.
Ferrari have insisted neither driver is the team leader, despite Leclerc having been there two years longer, and Sainz says that was proven by results at the end of the season.
Thumbs up if you’re a smooth operator 😎
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) December 22, 2021
“You can always look at the year race by race, and in some races there wasn’t and in others there was, but after 22 races luck pays off and everyone ends up where they deserve to be,” said Sainz, quoted by Marca.
“Ferrari don’t care which driver finishes ahead of the other – it was important to be third [in the Constructors’ Championship], the most important thing.
“At Ferrari there is no leader, although few believe me and it was demonstrated at the end of the season – two good drivers leading and directing the team, and I think that will continue to be the case and I think it’s their thing.
“To finish behind four cars [Mercedes and Red Bull] that are one second faster – you think being first of the rest is symbolic and a good symbol for those of us behind.”
Although he finished fifth in the official championship, Sainz was one place higher in the votes cast by the 10 team principals – the differences being below Norris but above Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez.
“It’s a good thing that the team bosses choose you, although I don’t know how seriously they take it,” said the 27-year-old.
No team leader at Ferrari?
Carlos Sainz believes that there is no team leader at Ferrari.