Ferrari drivers say fighting each other for the title will be a “great problem to have”

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr welcomed the prospect of fighting each other for the world championship after finishing first and second in Bahrain yesterday.

The pair gave the team its best start to a world championship in more than a decade. That raised the prospect of a rivalry between the pair as compete against each other for the title.

“It’s a great problem to have,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr, who was Ferrari’s top scorer last year but finished second to his team mate on Sunday.

“It’s just great news for Ferrari and for us because it’s where Ferrari should be and it’s where Charles and I want to be in our lives, fighting for world championships.”

Leclerc’s win yesterday was the first for the team since 2019. He demonstrated Ferrari’s potential in by taking pole position, while only Max Verstappen separated him from his team mate on the grid.

“Before the race, Charles and I were working together and the first thing that we said to each other is how good it feels just to be starting first and third and to finally be fighting for something bigger, and together,” said Sainz. “We kind of had that moment of just realising that we are in the fight this year, and it was… between us a good moment to reflect and to realise that we are a lot luckier in that sense that last year, and we have a good fight in our hands.”

Leclerc also welcomed the prospect of a season-long fight for the world championship with his team mate.

“I think it’s a very good problem to have,” he said. “Coming into the season we surely knew that we were going to be in a better position compared to the past two years but we didn’t really know where, and now we see that we are actually in the mix to fight for the title so it’s amazing.

“We are both very, very happy to have a car that is capable of winning. And we’ll fight for it, for sure.”

Ferrari’s one-two was secured when Verstappen was struck down by a power unit problem late in the race. Leclerc, who lost a potential win at the track due to a technical problem three years ago, revealed he played a joke on his team on the final lap by briefly pretending he also had a problem with his car.

“I did a bit of a joke on the radio on the last lap, saying that there was something strange with the engine, which gave a heart attack to some of the engineers I’m sure,” he said. “But everything was fine. So I’m very happy that this time we brought it home.”

Leclerc told his race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros there was “something strange with the engine” on the final lap of the race. “Copy,” his engineer replied, laughing as he realised Leclerc was not being serious.

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Keith Collantine
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19 comments on “Ferrari drivers say fighting each other for the title will be a “great problem to have””

  1. Charlie Payne
    21st March 2022, 7:32

    I love that leclerc would make that joke at the end of the race.

    Very refreshing.

  2. I don’t think Charles will have to worry about Sains this year. He’ll make a decent number 2 though in the Barrichello mould.

  3. A Ferrari-internal fight seems unlikely to happen seeing how Carlos was quite a bit slower than Charles.

    1. @proesterchen Ruling out Carlos after a single race is premature. The season is long, so anything’s possible.

      1. @jerejj

        Agree. One race is too soon to say it’s over.. but my gut does tell me that Sainz doesn’t have that next level of qualifying and race pace that Leclerc has.

        He seems like a driver who is consistent and quick, but doesn’t have that next level performance that drivers like Leclerc, Verstappen and Hamilton have. He might be great in fighting for podiums in the 3rd fastest car on the grid.. but launching a championship challenge… I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      2. I’d be with you if we hadn’t seen a similar trend through most of 2021.

    2. @proesterchen you have to see this per circuit as this is one who Charles like and Carlos never did well on. We have to wait untill 8-10 races on who is the beter one.

      1. Going to be fascinating to see. As much as I am all for Perez and seeing him do better relative to Max this season, which I think he will, he is also no Max, so I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying Max is going to get the lion’s share of the points at RBR, and hope Checo can be a disruptor.

        So if CL and CS end up fighting for the WDC, that is only going to play into Max’s hands. I think the easiest thing for Ferrari will be if they naturally have one or the other driver (likely CL by most peoples’ account) be the better driver so that one is not robbing points from the other. That way they won’t have to one-rooster themselves and actually order a driver to cede to the other. The only way I can see CL and CS fighting for the WDC is if they are utterly dominant and have the luxury to have a see saw battle and rob each other of points knowing that they are always locking out RBR et al at the front. But I think the odds of that are slim.

        But hey, for now both Ferrari drivers need to go for it and it is too soon to be doing this kind of math yet. Things have to shake out and then we’ll see if both Ferrari drivers have the luxury of fighting for the WDC. Then if they do, let’s see how buddy buddy they are if/when the gloves have to come off. Everything to play for, for now.

      2. I’m open to getting surprised, and surprised is what I’d be if Carlos manages to beat out Charles on pace.

  4. Leclerc and Sainz seem to get on quite well, from what we see, so if they do end up fighting one another for a world championship it will be interesting to see if that changes. Neither man has been in an F1 title fight before so it is hard to know how they will handle it.

    Many F1 friendships have been ruined by the pressures of competition – Hamilton and Rosberg most recently, but there are many other examples.

    1. @red-andy For sure and agreed. It will be interesting to see if the gloves have to come off, but to me that means them racing each other hard on a regular basis, and I think the only way they will be entitled to do that is if they are clearly the dominant team and are regularly 1-2 on the grid. If, as one scenario, Max is a regular for 1 or 2 on the grid, with a Ferrari or two nearby, Ferrari will have to designate a 1 and a 2 sooner than later, or see Max run away with the points at RBR while Ferrari splits their’s between their drivers. No offence to Checo but he is no Max. But of course that doesn’t mean he can’t disrupt Ferrari too.

      But anyway, you’re talking about how CL and CS would handle it, and I agree it is hard to know. It will just come down to the circumstances of each race, and if/when at some point one driver ends up resenting a move or a win or an order or what have you that might sour things. I just think in general Ferrari will have to be quite dominant over the other teams in order for them to run into a potential problem between their drivers in terms of clashing and their friendship. Otherwise I think they will need cooperation and friendly and advancing attitude, more than duelling, for I don’t see them dominating the season.

  5. Here’s the joke + his chequered flag arrival from helmet cam POV:
    I initially thought his old words had got edited in the mix, but he actually repeated those words from three years back for joking purposes.

    1. @jerejj
      I remember Checo doing something similar in the 2011 Japanese GP but his engineer pranked him back, fantastic !

      1. @tifoso1989 I had forgotten that 2011 Japanese GP joke.
        I should’ve immediately recalled yesterday, but oh well, both jokes were good.

  6. It all starts with smiles and jokes… later it’s crashing ‘n banging and screaming.

    1. I see what you did, LOL. I immediately recognized your reference as this quite famous LWJP quote:

  7. This year may not be a typical duel either between the Ferrari drivers or one Ferrari driver and 1 rival from another team. Things will change by track and it may well be 3 or 4 people involved. Winning the title may well come down to being 2nd a lot when a rival wins instead of 3rd. Hamilton will be in the thick of all this alongside Verstappen. Leclerc also goes well ay Bahrain, if the 1st race of 2019 was here everyone would have said Leclerc could win the title in 2019 as Ferrari also were the best in testing that year, instead they were poor in Australia at the 1st race and apart from Bahrain were not challenges that was an outlier in the opening half of the 2019 season. I really hope Ferrari get an easy 1 2 next race but I think the next 2 races on very different tracks will give a much better idea.

  8. I don’t believe Carlos and Charles will be fighting it out much in the track. Charles is clearly faster. Carlos is surely more consistent so he might come ahead in the points, but not by successfully tracing Charlescan

  9. This pair remembers me HAM-BUT McLaren years. SAI is consistent like BUT, maybe not that fast but a bit more agressive. Time will tell. But I wouldn’t discard SAI just yet.

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