Ralf Schumacher believes the Ferrari “pecking order” is already set in stone for the season, with Carlos Sainz aware of that and “angry” as a result.
Despite two podiums in the first three races, Sainz has already fallen 38 points behind team-mate Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings, with the Monegasque driver having had a near-perfect start to the season.
A problem with Sainz’s starter motor in qualifying in Australia compromised his session and left him out of position on the grid, and he then spun out of the race on the second lap – with Leclerc, meanwhile, going on to win the race comfortably.
Even though only three races have taken place in 2022, Schumacher thinks the team have thrown their support behind Leclerc already – in a similar fashion to how his brother became team leader with Ferrari.
“The pecking order at Ferrari is already established,” he said, as per F1 Insider.
“Carlos Sainz knows that too and is correspondingly angry. There was a time when someone [brother, Michael] was very successful and it was also the case that you knew relatively early on which driver you were concentrating on.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto insists that no team orders will come into play yet with the Scuderia, with both drivers still “free to fight” it out at the front of the field, should they be running in close proximity.
Despite Sainz’s deficit to Leclerc, Binotto said that the amount of time to go in the season means there is still plenty of scope for things to change.
“It’s only three races which have been done now,” said the Ferrari team boss.
“There are still 20 races left, hopefully 19 or 20. So the championship is still very long. Our drivers are free to fight, and I am really looking forward and enjoying that they are battling for a good place, and first place, if possible.”
Sainz’s contract is up for renewal at the end of the season, and both the team and driver have said that they want to extend his stay at Ferrari beyond the end of 2022, which is thought to be all-but agreed.
But a new deal is yet to be announced, with a report claiming the Spaniard is wanting a two-year contract, but Ferrari are holding out to offer a one-plus-one deal, with the second year being optional.
Former F1 driver Marc Surer thinks keeping things as they are is the best way forward for the team right now.
“Sainz is basically doing a very good job,” he said. “He also gets on well with Leclerc. It doesn’t make sense for Ferrari to change the driver pairing at short notice.”
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