Capelli urges Ferrari to let go of driver ‘hierarchy’ idea

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Silverstone July 2021

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz laughing on the grid. Silverstone July 2021

Former Ferrari driver Ivan Capelli has urged the Scuderia not to go into this season with a number one and two driver, saying the track should “dictate the hierarchy”.

Having signed Carlos Sainz as Charles Leclerc’s new team-mate for last year’s championship, the general consensus was the Monégasque driver would be favoured as the number one.

Not only did Leclerc already have two years of racing with Ferrari, but he also has a long-term contract and has been billed as the future of Ferrari.

Sainz upset that prediction as not only was he the first Ferrari driver to reach the podium, but he bagged four top-three results to Leclerc’s one and beat him in the Drivers’ Championship.

There were rumours in the latter half of the season, albeit unconfirmed, that Leclerc was unhappy with Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, said to be feeling the Italian was listening more to what Sainz wanted from the car.

But while the log reads P5 to Sainz and P7 to Leclerc, the Spaniard only scored 5.5 points more than his team-mate in 22 grands prix.

With little to separate the two, Capelli has urged Ferrari to give both drivers equal opportunities this season – a year in which many predict Ferrari could return to the front of the field.

“The team must make them start on par, then it will be the track that dictates the hierarchy,” Capelli told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Ferrari must start preparing itself for the management of two drivers with the same ambitions, the same desire and the same chances of winning.

Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc side by side. Brazil November 2021.

“We are Italians who believe we need a hierarchy in the team. So many times the English have put two stars on the track – I am thinking of Mansell-Piquet at Williams, Senna-Prost at McLaren.

“Then, if anything, the season will create it, the hierarchy.”

The 58-year-old, who raced in 98 grands prix and scored three podium finishes, says he was impressed with Sainz’s performances last season.

The Spaniard joined Ferrari after two years with McLaren and quickly adapted to his new team.

“Sainz had to adapt to the new methods of a team that is more complicated than the others,” he said. “He did it well.

“I believe being able to speak Italian, which he has known since Toro Rosso, has also helped him. He is a driver who sets the tone. He does a good job and manages situations and tyres well.”

Leclerc, he feels, struggled under the pressure of stepping up to the role of team leader at Ferrari following Sebastian Vettel’s departure.

“Charles is quicker on the flying lap,” he continued.

 

“Last year he was expected to be more the team leader, but he may not always have succeeded because in previous years, with Vettel, nobody asked for nothing.

“Having pressure on your shoulders makes a big difference.”

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Former driver says Ferrari should not have a No 1

Ivan Capelli believes Ferrari should not have a number one driver in 2022.