Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Leclerc: There is no ‘number one’ driver at Ferrari

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc says he and new team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr have equal status at Ferrari.

What they say

Which F1 drivers will beat their team mates in 2021?
Leclerc was asked whether Ferrari have chosen a ‘number one’ at their team this year:

Well, at the end, I’ve spent more time in Ferrari than Carlos did, so I have more experience with Ferrari. I don’t think there is a clear leader and I think Mattia made it clear.

But that’s good. I am here in Formula 1 to fight against the best. I think Carlos is extremely talented and we’ll just push each other to perform better every time we are on track. But as the team mentioned, there’s no clear number one or number two.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Restored 70-year-old BRM V16 dyno-tested

BRM P15 V16
BRM’s notoriously complex V16 engines are being rebuilt

BRM’s ambitious but flawed 16-cylinder P15 could run again, 70 years since its sole appearance in a Formula 1 race. Examples of the car and its fearsomely complicated V16 engine are being restored by BRM, the first example of which has been reserved by the grandson of BRM’s original owner Sir Alfred Owen.

Jose Froilan Gonzalez, BRM P15 V16
The team repaired an engine which was “lunched” by Gonzalez
The P15 was entered for two world championship races in 1951 at Silverstone and Monza. Reg Parnell took one to fifth place in the former, scoring two points, but none of the team’s cars took the start at the next round, following which the project was canned.

The cars are now being re-engineered and rebuilt. One engine has been tested by BRM’s technical partners Hall and Hall on a dynamometer at RAF Folkingham in Lincolnshire.

“We didn’t want to push it too hard on the dyno but even so we estimate we got about 550bhp at 10,000rpm and 2.5psi,” said chief engine technician Martin Smith. “[This] is a huge step forward as we continue to build our experience and understanding of this astonishing engine.”

The rebuilt engine last ran in 1999 when former F1 racer Jose Froilan Gonzalez “lunched” the unit by over-revving it.

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Comment of the day

How will Esteban Ocon fare up against Fernando Alonso?

I’m expecting Alonso to eat Ocon alive, and it’ll be a total meltdown from the word go. Ocon isn’t that kind team player, and we know Alonso is just equally fierce…

If they start battling for good points regularly, it’s going to be as interesting as Ocon’s tenure at Force India with Perez.

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On this day in F1

  • 25 years ago today Andre Ribeiro scored a home win on the Rio de Janeiro oval in the second round of the CART IndyCar championship, while Mark Blundell survived a huge 315kph crash

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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33 comments on “Leclerc: There is no ‘number one’ driver at Ferrari”

  1. Yea… double trouble Mercedes…. But maybe for one car only… It appears that Bottas has been better than Hamilton on handling the car this testing haha

    1. No way Kribana.
      From that photo we might be able to infer that there is no major floor update, we can’t see the diffuser. I would not be surprised to see a mclaren like diffuser appear for round 1.
      Brackley often have lots of bits in the works. On race pace they were 1-2 second quicker than the midfield, there is no trouble.

      1. To use the McLaren Diffuser you have to redesign the gearbox casing. That will cost a token. Merc already used its tokens. So no go there.

  2. Ferrari not having a number one is possibly true, as things stand. It is quite clear that the team was rallying round Charles in the past couple years. If we are to believe Andrew Benson’s reporting (sorry I dont have the link) from a few years ago, they were a fair few folk at Maranello who felt Vettel should have won the title in 2019, going as far as stating that some felt a Fernando Alonso in that car would have won, or perhaps running it very close.

    Ferrari aren’t going to be contenders this year. I am sure their focus will be entirely on 2022. If they prove to be contenders next year, Ferrari may have a tough call on their hands, which depend entirely on how Carlos fare’s alongside Charles this year. I feel that the former will need to rally the team around him if he is to stand a chance in circumstances where Ferrari are contenders. If history has taught us anything, they are a team that gravitate toward one driver, contractual or otherwise. It is currently Charles’ team, Carlos only has 1 year to “endear” himself to the team.

    I’d say that if Ferrari are contenders in 2022, and both drivers are more or less evenly matched, at some stage, the brass will call off Carlos. They are desperate to win the title, and considering the circumstances, I wouldn’t blame them for for favouring Charles.

    1. @jaymenon10

      If we are to believe Andrew Benson’s reporting (sorry I dont have the link) from a few years ago, they were a fair few folk at Maranello who felt Vettel should have won the title in 2019, going as far as stating that some felt a Fernando Alonso in that car would have won, or perhaps running it very close.

      To be honest, I felt that 2018 was the season where Vettel should have won the title. He had the team’s full support, including a teammate playing a compliant #2 and he had a car that was as fast as the Mercedes. A driver of Alonso/Ricciardo calibre would have probably taken the title, or at least taken it down to the last race of the season. I think it was Vettel’s disappointing 2018 season that called for change. The 2019 season was a ‘survival of the fittest’ season among the drivers. Sure, they did say they were going to favour Vettel early on in the season, but it just naturally aspirated to who beats his teammate on merit battle within a few races.

      I believe 2021 will be a little similar to 2019. They won’t be fighting for the title, so there’s no dire need to have team orders from race 1. They’ll let both drivers race and see who comes out on top. The only thing they’ll focus on is avoiding 2019 style clashes between them.

      It should be interesting to see how Carlos performs against Charles. I don’t think Carlos will quite match up to his level, but he should be consistently just behind and occasionally ahead.. which is probably what Ferrari wants as a best case scenario.

      1. @todfod

        Appears I mixed up 2019 with 2018!

        Yes, 2018 was the year he should have won the title, at least run Hamilton down to the last race at least.

      2. @jaymenon10 @todfod I disagree. Not about AB having that as an opinion, nor that ‘a fair few folk at Maranello’ shared it, but I just don’t think the driver was going to matter there, in spite of the mistakes SV made.

        I’d like to think AB in his opinion piece has at the same time pointed out the strength of Mercedes in 2017 and 2018, which you two are shading. And you both seem to be accepting that perhaps the best they could have hoped for was to run LH down to the last race.

        I can only go by what I felt through and through in those seasons. What I saw was Ferrari coming out swinging for sure, but that was with the appreciation on my part that Mercedes were also winning races in the first halves of those seasons. In other words, they had shown that they still had race winning cars even though Ferrari had taken a big step. What I felt in the first halves of both those seasons is that it would only be a matter of time before Mercedes sorted themselves and got their act together, which is exactly what happened in the second halves of those seasons. I was not surprised one bit, and indeed expected it. SV won a few races in those halves, and LH won a massive amount.

        So I think it is folly to suggest SV coulda, woulda, shoulda, without including the fact that Mercedes and particularly LH/Mercedes have been the benchmark the whole time of the hybrid era, including 2017 and 2018, as they showed, and it is also folly to assume FA for example, and the team, would have had a mistake free time of it, with Ferrari on their hind foot and having to scramble a bit to retain what strength they showed in the first halves of those season, which as I say still had LH winning some races too.

        At no time in 2017 and 2018 did I ever think Ferrari had earned the right to be thought of as the new benchmark, usurping Mercedes. And that’s why they run all the races and it takes a season of them to win the titles. They don’t hand out the big trophies half way through the season. Mercedes have simply been too strong all along, over entire seasons.

    2. I agree with you, but would add that Ferrari’s tendency to gravitate towards one driver could also mean that they’ll start gravitating towards Carlos if he exhibits performance and develops the car better.

      1. Agree. Although I’m not sure if they would gravitate towards one driver in 2021 itself. It could be 2022 when that starts shaping up.

        Regarding Carlos, personally, I don’t think he would perform better than Leclerc, just going by how Norris was equally impressive as him during their Mclaren time. But let’s see how it goes… could be some surprises.

    3. Andrew Benson spouts among the most ridiculous rubbish of any F1 journalist. Wasn’t this the guy who gave Jolyon Palmer rookie of the year over Pascal Wehrlein? (It could have been someone else in that instance, but it doesn’t distract from Benson’s regularly biased claptrap).
      Fact is Mercedes had the fastest car at the majority of races in 2018 (not qualifying or race in perfect dry conditions that suited the Ferrari, as most British outlets would have you believe) – the conditions available on race day. So Ferrari were up against it over a year. Alonso would have come closer I believe, but it would have been an exceptional effort (similar to what he did in 2012 and 2014 – close to perfect maximisation) if he achieved it.

      Vettel made mistakes, but some of those were born out of poor Ferrari management (such as Monza) or just bad luck (Germany – where a year later Hamilton made two similar mistakes with less unfortunate consequences).

      Vettel also received less assistance than Hamilton – Raikkonen didn’t move over in Austria, and in Russia Bottas basically gifted Hamilton the win.

      The narrow minded bias i read on the comments here really is astonishing sometimes. Yes Vettel made mistakes. But Mercedes had the best car. Alonso could have maybe sneaked it in a Ferrari but ut would have been a highly unlikely outcome. If you tally up Vettel’s errors a) they still don’t get him close to the title and b) are no greater than the poor luck Bottas suffered.

      Bit of perspective please!!!!!

      1. While I too don’t treat AB as gospel, not even close, I think we all echo the same points.

        There was never any doubt that Mercedes were the outright fastest car in 17 and 18. However, a consistent Vettel, who maximised every possible result, may have run it down to the wire, and as you say perhaps sneaked it. So, for “some people at Maranello” to think that an Alonso in the car could have the won the title in 18, isn’t quite far fetched is it?

  3. Re: CotD. I see fireworks between the two for the first part of the season but as Alonso learns Ocon’s pressure points I think he ends up either totally destroying Ocon’s confidence or Ocon accepts a number two position like Massa.

    1. I assume I’d be impressed if Alonso has a big margin over Ocon. If that’s the case, Ocon can start packing. Zhou is at the door.

      Ocon was no easy pray to Perez, and I can see him having Alonso close. Maybe a tenth between both in qualifying.

      But when it comes to racing, I think Alonso will deliver. Just like Raikkonen does Everything that Vettel didn’t.

  4. How can four day old quotes, widely reported on other sites, make it as the headline of a daily round-up.
    Soon the ‘On this day in F1’ section will be the most current :P

    Racefansdotnet, you can do better.

    1. A lot, a lot, a lot.

      It’s just clickbait, it’s all about Mazepin controversy and Alonso predicted by viewers to destroy once again his team, something I really don’t think of the season.

  5. Finally, we get to see what Jeddah’s track configuration looks like.

  6. Can’t understand why Ferrari keep chanting that mantra. Mercedes and Red Bull both have well defined N1 N2 drivers so what’s the big deal.

    1. Merc and Red Bull do excactly the same thing. They also say they do not have a number one and two. In the end they act differently most of the time. Just like Ferrari did the past 25 years.

      1. What nonsense from you two. In quite recent years Nico beat LH, and Max and DR had a great rivalry going. On both teams the drivers have equal equipment and opportunity to affect their own fates on those teams. And I remind you TW had re-signed Nico through 2018, and RBR wanted DR and thought they had offered everything he wanted in order to keep him too.

        1. Probably that’s why they both left…

          1. @jjlehto Nico, having left after beating LH, could not possibly have had ‘the team is for LH’ as his reason, for he had just beaten LH. In fact throughout 2016 LH repeatedly and strangely claimed publicly that the team wanted Nico to win. And TW had re-signed Nico for two more years of the tense rivalry.

            DR said leaving was the hardest decision he had ever had to make, and even the team was shocked at his decision. In the case of DR and RBR it is my opinion that he may have thought he would be better off trying to be a go-to driver at Renault, and now at Mac, but I highly doubt he would have thought at RBR that he himself was not going to have equal equipment and opportunity, but just that Max was out and out beating him in many categories on the track. DR to my knowledge has never said his opportunities were scuppered by the team favouring Max, but rather imho it was Max’s performances themselves that put the doubt in DR’s mind that his future was there. It was Max himself that was making him the go-to driver on the team.

            Couldn’t one argue, if RBR is indeed as you claim above, one to designate a 1 and 2, then Max walked into a team, after four races had been run in 2016, that had DR as the number 1 then? If they act as you claim, what changed? DR had number one status by your submission. And even when Max won his first race there, yes under special circumstances, but yes I suppose in DR’s car you would say, and yes while he spent numerous times ruining his own races with his exuberance of youth, until Monaco 2018 finally changed his channel and he smartened up, what changed then for DR? Was he or was he not the number one on this one-rooster team that you claim them to be? Max wasn’t even on the team at the start of 2016.

          2. I guess we’d have to ask Nico and Dani otherwise we would never know what they were thinking.

            Anyways, here’s what I think – Nico realized he was not at Lewis’ level; he knew things went EXTREMELY well for him in 2016 and it as unlikely they would again, especially with Lewis out for revenge. I am not saying Nico didn’t win on merit, but luck and Hamilton’s slip in the early season helped him a lot. Furthermore, we should be talking about Bottas and not Nico – tell me that you truly believe Lewis is not considered N1 (and rightfully so)?

            As for Dani, I can’t say he was mistreated, you’re right about that, but he surely knew that the tide was turning. There’s no need to be getting unequal treatment to figure out your time is running. Probably Max is the better driver I bet he would have elbowed his way as a N1 had Dani decided to stay.

            Speaking of RB, what do you think about Seb and Webber?

            In any case, I see nothing wrong in the N1-N2 philosophy, to be honest. I wasn’t born yet to see Picquet vs. Mansell and I was 2-3 y.o when Prost and Senna fought it out, but I guess both you and I know how these went.

          3. @jjlehto Oh for sure with LH/VB it is LH that is the natural number one, and it’s just that my thing on this all along is that Nico, nor VB, nor DR were disadvantaged by some designated status such that they did not have the same equipment and opportunity as LH and Max.

            I would say the same thing about SV and Webber. Now I haven’t read Webber’s book so I’m not entirely sure on his stance on the matter, and of course there was ‘wing-gate’ lol for that one race after which he said something about ‘not bad for a number two.’ But again, I believe wholeheartedly that MW had equal equipment and opportunity overwhelmingly. Let’s recall too that MW kept re-signing one year deals with RBR with SV there, so how badly could he have actually been treated? I just think SV proved himself to be better and he also showed a much greater comfort with Newey’s exhaust blown diffuser work.

            So to sum up my general thing on this concept of a 1 and a 2. I believe that things have gotten muddled in people’s thinking because it can appear like a team has literally ‘designated’ a one and two, and yes of course a bit of that goes on. MS/Ferrari was to me the horrible awful extreme case of it where RB was literally, by his own admission, under contract to not compete against MS. I despised that as I think it was very weak of MS to need that to succeed. Contracts aside I also despise even just the non-contractual but verbal designation of one rooster from race one. It’s robs the one driver, and it robs us fans of racing in the pinnacle of racing.

            Overwhelmingly I think that what happens is that two drivers start off a season with equal status and equipment (for sure they are far from always equal on talent but that’s a separate discussion), and then a natural number one surfaces between the two as they do better and/or are more comfortable with the car, and simply naturally become the one with the better chance for the WDC and it no longer makes sense to have one driver rob points from the other, when it is coming down to a potential WDC fight that is. For teams that are not in that fight it makes less sense to me to favour even the natural number one who has established himself as the better driver or at least having the better season. If even the natural number one isn’t in it for the title I’d rather see the natural number 2 able to keep pushing for the entire season too.

            So for example when it comes to team orders, I have always felt that as long as both drivers have had equal equipment and opportunity from race one, and if it hasn’t worked out for one of the drivers but the other has a shot at the WDC, it shouldn’t even take for a team order for the driver to understand his position is to not harm the team and it’s sponsors and his teammate by robbing the one with the shot of points. When team orders do happen, especially when we get surprised that they are happening fairly early on in a season, I don’t think teams do that with great joy towards the one being ordered, but sometimes the math just dictates that it is the prudent thing, if for example the competition starts running away with the lion’s share of the points, even mid-season.

            So yeah I see nothing wrong with the 1 and 2 philosophy either, but my conditions are that both drivers started off the season with equal equipment and opportunity, and that one is a natural number 1 by talent, luck, circumstances, what have you, and I think overwhelmingly drivers start off seasons with it in their hands as to decide their fate on the team. You want the status of number 1? Then be there at the end fighting for the WDC with your teammate out of the running as the last third or fourth or fifth of the season ensues.

            Senna/Prost at Mac? Perfect for the fans. Two WDC level drivers on a WDC/WCC level team duking it out no holds barred. Will be talked about forever so enthralling it was.

  7. Hahaha, Ferrari decides to alienate from its audience before the season start. If there was ever an dishonest old economy company…

    1. I don’t think that makes any sense, but I do know that at least they have not started off Sainz’s tenure with the team by making him a number 2. I’d like to think he’s a quality enough guy that he would never have signed up for that if he knew that would be part of the deal, and that if they pull the designated one-rooster thing on him at some point he’ll look elsewhere.

      For now I would like to think, even as much as Ferrari is famous for sometimes going the one-rooster route, there are other times when they have just let that happen naturally if/when one driver outperforms the other as the season goes along. I’d like to think that for this season at least we all understand CL has the inevitable upper hand as the engrained one, CS being the newbie, but I have no doubt whatsoever CS will have equal equipment to only get stronger and stronger as the season goes along as he gels with the team and they to him, similar to how SP has said he thinks he’ll need 5 races to fully acclimatize with the team and they to him.

  8. I agree with COTD that Ocon will get eaten alive, but I also think that there won’t be that many clashes given that I don’t expect Ocon to be in Alonso’s league to the level where he’ll get that opportunity. Kind of like Albon and Gasly versus Verstappen or Bottas versus Hamilton. Like you can expect a reasonable amount of on-track clashes when two drivers are near each others level, but not when one is just not a challenge to the same level.

    Ocon might grumble a bit in the background, but I doubt Alonso will even really notice he’s back there.

    1. @aiii I agree too that there shouldn’t be too many if any clashes. As you say, assuming FA is the better more experienced driver, which of course is a simple fact, he should be too far ahead of EO for there to be any need to clash. But let’s say the car handcuffs both drivers equally and EO does find himself close to FA at times. I just cannot fathom how EO would think it would be the right thing to do to clash with FA, and it would far and away serve him best to help the team progress and to take the opportunity to be on FA’s side and learn from him. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have a friendly rivalry going on if indeed they are both limited by the car and the competition around them and find themselves close to each other, but EO needs to keep it in a zone of a healthy and respectful kind of competition in which he is learning from FA. It would not serve EO nor the team to create hard feelings and an uncomfortable atmosphere when their main goal needs be to advance the pu and think about next year’s car, and keep a good atmosphere for the reset of 2022.

      I like to envision an atmosphere where if EO outqualifies FA, FA gives him a pat on the back for that, and if EO passes FA on the track at times, it is done cleanly and respectfully such that the same pat on the back is warranted. But if EO starts treating FA like he is SP, and makes it about his own ego and foregoes the team’s best interests, that’s just not useful for the team nor for EO for where they are right now.

  9. Sad to see the news about Sabine Schmitz this morning.

    1. Wow, such sad news. Wishing the best for her loved ones

    2. @wonderbadger

      Indeed, she had so much energy and seemed to enjoy life so much. Very sad for her.

  10. 550bhp at 10,000rpm

    That’s crazy. You might have heard the sound of the V16 before, but if not, there’s some videos at Youtube that’s good for the soul. IMO the best ever engine noise together with the earlier Auto Union V16.

    1. Hear hear! I still use it as a ring signal on the phone and let it ring for a while to hear the revs pick up!

      Remember playing it loud at the office one time, where several people moved to the windows to catch a glimpse of whatever monster was screaming outside! :)

  11. CotD: If Ocon couldn’t cope with Ricciardo I don’t see how he does any better against Alonso.

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