Mika Hakkinen tells Ferrari how to unleash best from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc lapping just ahead of his team-mate Carlos Sainz with both drivers running the medium Pirelli tyres.

Ferrari: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in action

At a time when both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are uncertain on their Ferrari futures, two-time F1 champ Mika Hakkinen says both will “deliver incredible results” if they are given support and the right car.

Ferrari are in a situation where the contracts of both Leclerc and Sainz are set to expire at the end of the F1 2024 campaign, with the team choosing to hold off on starting negotiations until the end of the current season.

That, though, has led Leclerc to confirm that he cannot quash reports linking him to the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin, as he does not know what Ferrari wants from him, while Sainz has consistently shut down talk linking him to Audi F1, who will join Formula 1 in partnership with Sauber from 2026.

Mika Hakkinen tells Ferrari to “support” their drivers

Leclerc did send Ferrari into the F1 2023 summer break on a high note as he made the Belgian GP podium, though this season has been a story of inconsistency for Ferrari who have fallen well below their target of challenging for the titles, with Red Bull instead dominating the competition.

There has been signs of tension for both Leclerc and Sainz with Ferrari during the campaign, with the team then leaving their futures unresolved for now, but Hakkinen stresses that giving the drivers backing and adequate machinery is the key to unlock their peak abilities.

“When your car is difficult to drive the possibility of making mistakes is higher,” Hakkinen is quoted by Motorsport.com as having told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The two Ferrari drivers are always on the limit.

“Leclerc and Sainz are not rookie drivers who have to learn. But it is true that, having never won a World Championship, they have more pressure on their shoulders.

“But they are two great drivers who just need support. When those two have a car up to scratch they will achieve incredible results.”

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Having battled with Mercedes and Aston Martin over the ‘best of the rest’ P2 spot for much of F1 2023, that trio has faced a new rival in recent rounds in the form of McLaren, who have surged forward via their MCL60 upgrade plan which began in Austria.

Hakkinen then says the huge and swift gains by his former team should serve as inspiration for Ferrari that they can do it too.

“Seeing it [Ferrari SF-23] in action in certain corners I said to myself, ‘Oh, they have the wrong car,'” said Hakkinen.

“The drivers after the first outing said they had small problems, but from my point of view it was really big trouble, even more so because the Red Bull was flying.

“But recovery is possible: what McLaren did recently is a great example. No one in Woking has pointed the finger at anyone, they have worked hard. What makes the difference is the people.”

Ferrari sit P4 in the current Constructors’ standings, 88 points clear of McLaren and five behind Aston Martin a position ahead.

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