The Ferrari decision which would have both drivers scrambling for exit

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the Austrian Grand Prix. Styria, July 2023.

Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Uncompetitive car aside, Le Mans winner Richard Bradley believes the biggest sin Ferrari could commit against their drivers is telling one of them he’s the “number two” man.

This year’s championship marks Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s third season together as team-mates, but their partnership has not yielded the results the drivers, nor the team, had been dreaming of.

Securing just four wins in their time together, all four coming last season, there have been a lot of questions from outside the team as to whether Ferrari have let themselves down by not picking a number one driver.

Ferrari warned against declaring a number one driver

Last season former team boss Mattia Binotto insisted several times the focus had to be on improving the team as a whole, not just backing one driver, and despite Leclerc setting the pace early in the championship it was a stance he maintained.

It was thought that could change this year as Binotto resigned his post at the end of the season with Leclerc’s former team boss Fred Vasseur taking up the reins.

But like Binotto, the Frenchman made it clear he wouldn’t declare a number one driver, although as a caveat said if he had to, they’d have to deal with it.

However, 2015 LMP2 Le Mans winner Bradley believes that would be the fastest way to ensure the number two man leaves Ferrari as soon as possible.

Asked whether not having a number one driver was at the ‘detriment’ of the team, the Briton told the On Track GP podcast: “To tell any driver there is going to be a number one or something like that, for racing drivers, Formula 1 drivers in particular, egos are the size of Jupiter.

“So whoever got told, and based on last year it would probably be Sainz, they’re a number two it wouldn’t be very productive.

“If you remember when Max [Verstappen] and Carlos were team-mates at Toro Rosso there were a lot of rumblings going on and they actually had to bring in an enforcer in John Booth to keep control of them.

“So I think if one of them [the Ferrari team-mates] gets told they are in that position that they will immediately begin looking for another team.” recommends

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Leclerc will line up on pole position for Sunday’s 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix, the Monégasque driver inheriting P1 through Max Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty for exceeding his season’s gearbox allocation, while Carlos Sainz is P4.

But even then, Bradley can’t see Ferrari winning this race or any other this season.

“Ferrari’s pace is actually not too bad, but there’s no zip about them, you can’t see them winning a race this year,” he said.

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