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Formula 1

Gary Anderson: Ferrari must have more control over its drivers

by Gary Anderson
3 min read

Ferrari’s management of its two drivers during races has been a big talking point in Formula 1 grands prix this season. In the early stages of yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix sprint, we saw some brutal racing between Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and we could see the same again in today’s race.

But if Ferrari is going to have any chance of winning either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship, the way the drivers are managed in races to ensure the best possible result is something it is going to have to review very closely.

When something out of the norm arises, Ferrari is either very slow to react or doesn’t bother. It’s almost as if the team expects the situation to resolve itself. We saw examples of this at both Silverstone and Monaco.

On both occasions, Carlos Sainz took matters into his own hands, while Leclerc was hung out to dry. If, and it’s a big if, Leclerc really is Ferrari’s main championship hope then he needs to be prioritised when it comes to strategy.

Charles Leclerc F1 Austrian GP Ferrari

Leclerc is exceptionally fast over one lap, but Sainz is now finding his feet in races after initially struggling with the 2022 Ferrari. And usually it’s on Sunday that the points are awarded.

Accidents, incidents and reliability problems over the first 10-and-a-half events have left Ferrari in a difficult position points-wise. Both Red Bull and Ferrari have had their fair share of lost points, but it’s Max Verstappen who is in the best position.

However, there is a long way to go in the championship and neither team will know which will be next to suffer a big points blow. What you must do as a team is avoid self-inflicted errors and that’s exactly what Ferrari’s poor management of its drivers in races is.

I’m pretty sure that if Verstappen and Perez are in a battle on track, they know who has priority and who must give the other an easier time. But I’m not sure that is true of the Ferrari pair.

That doesn’t mean I am saying either of them should classified as out-and-out number one with the other one left to pussyfoot around, but you need to lay down the law as to who gets priority in these situations. As both drivers – but mostly Leclerc – pointed out yesterday, they can’t afford to waste time battling each other and letting Verstappen get away in today’s race.

Yes, we all want to see good racing but this matters because both Sainz and Leclerc are simply parts of a much bigger team. In every other department there is a hierarchy and if you are focused on winning a championship as opposed to just having some fun in races, that must extend to the drivers. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1 Austrian GP

That’s why I’m glad I’m not sat on the Ferrari pitwall trying to control them when it all gets a bit close. By that time, it’s way too late.

If I were in that position, then I’d know that the time had come to explain the bigger picture to them and lay down the law. They need to realise the team is more important than either of them individually.

Yes, they can race hard when the race situation allows it. But a little more respect for each other, and therefore for everyone else in the team, will go a long way.

Leclerc and Sainz start today’s race second and third so will likely be in close proximity at least in the early stages of the race. Let’s see if there’s any sign Ferrari has taken control of the situation.

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