Still ‘untapped potential’ to find in Ferrari pair

Henry Valantine
Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Qatar November 2021

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have a discussion on track. Qatar November 2021

Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies is “convinced” Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz can perform even better next season, with “untapped potential” to be found between them.

Leclerc and Sainz formed what was regarded by many as the best all-round driving pairing on the grid last season, with the two separated by only 5.5 points at the end of the year, as they climbed back up the Constructors’ standings to take P3, ahead of McLaren.

The two have also forged a solid relationship away from the track, as they share the common goal of bringing Ferrari back to the front of the field, having worked well together within the team.

Sainz came out on top through the season, though, with Leclerc saying it was very much a “lesson learned” for him as he was beaten over the course of a year for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

Mekies agrees with the sentiment that Ferrari hold the best driver line-up on the grid as a whole, and there is still more to come from them as they hopefully push on in 2022.

Speaking to the Italian branch of Motorsport.com, Mekies said: “I think they are two drivers who are much more united than you see from the outside, not only because they work well together, but because they respect each other, they collaborate and they are aware of their role in driving a car that you have to make grow all together.

“At the moment you can’t hope for anything more in terms of the integration and quality of the work they are doing. Mattia Binotto has always said that they are the best pair in the paddock and that’s what we all feel at Ferrari when we see them working.

“That doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a desire to grow, we are always convinced that they both have untapped potential from their talent, so we are working with them to unlock that and take further steps forward together.”

 

Sainz is said to be in talks with the team over a new contract, with his current deal set to run out at the end of 2022. Should he continue though, they could set a foundation for the team for years to come – with Leclerc already locked into a contract until the end of 2024.

Both Ferrari drivers completed a private test around Fiorano recently as they got back into the rhythm of driving ahead of the season, with three days of running around Barcelona to come from 23-25 February, before their testing programme is completed with three more days behind the wheel in Bahrain from 10-12 March.