(GMM) Charles Leclerc has reached a “crossroads” in his F1 career. If his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. keeps beating him, his career will nosedive.
That is the view of former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, referring to the way in which Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz has emerged as the more impressive-looking Ferrari driver in 2023.
For his part, Spaniard Sainz played down the perception that he and Leclerc are duking it out for number 1 status.
“It is very clear in our contracts and in our driving that the only number 1 is Ferrari,” he said at an event in Madrid earlier this week.
“There are races where you are going to be in front, races where you are going to be behind, races where you are going to have to help your teammate or Ferrari, races where you are going to have to help yourself.
“Charles and I are quite used to it and we know how to manage it well, but surely anyone who loves Ferrari should not encourage that sort of number 1 talk anyway because first it is not true and second it does not help,” Sainz added.
However, Schumacher clearly thinks Leclerc does have something to worry about.
“Leclerc is now at a crossroads,” he told formel1.de. “He needs to look at himself objectively because there is no point in being a big talent who is very fast and who tries to change the situation for the better but makes all these mistakes.
“Sainz is more balanced,” Schumacher added. “Not as talented as Leclerc, I’m pretty sure of that, but he’s more versatile and at the moment is the better package.”
Sainz, though, insists that both he and Leclerc are very evenly matched.
“This generation of cars are difficult to drive,” he said, “and that’s why in many grands prix there are teammates separated by two, three tenths or half a second.
“But in Ferrari, that doesn’t happen. We are always close to each other and that is a very important asset for Ferrari. We push each other a lot.”
Former racing driver turned pundit Roldan Rodriguez, however, sides with Schumacher’s view.
“99.9% of the drivers right now would like to be Carlos Sainz,” he told DAZN. “A Ferrari driver who is giving Charles Leclerc – the driver who has swept everything he has ever raced – a terrible time.
“On top of that he is still progressing, so Carlos has it all.”