Carlos Sainz has clearly upped his game in recent races. He won at Silverstone, he had a good pace in Austria and France. He helped Charles Leclerc to pole position in qualifying and he beat his team-mate again this Saturday in qualifying.
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s sporting director, analyzes what may look like a power grab that will complicate the task of the Scuderia if there is to be a choice to make.
« You’re absolutely right that Carlos had three extremely strong weekends: Silverstone, Austria, France. We’re very, very happy with that. He wasn’t showing up so much in the final race standings other than Silverstone. But you’re absolutely right that he’s improved a lot since the start of the season. »
« We made no secret of saying at the start of the year that naturally the car didn’t suit him very well. We had to work a lot with him, with his engineers, with everyone at Maranello to make sure that we can give something that he’s more comfortable with. And those things take time. »
« And slowly it looks like we’re heading in the right direction, which is another good sign for the team and the way we interact. So I think that’s where it’s at. a leader or not? No, it’s not, that’s not what makes a leader or not. We know that we have two very, very good pilots. We treat them in a way that maximize our championship positions and we want them as fast as possible. »
What has Ferrari changed to help the Spaniard? How did she help Sainz feel more comfortable with F1-75?
« Well, in the beginning it comes first from Carlos’ ability to analyze what the car is doing and what it needs. And not only is he able to feel it, but he’s able to communicate it to the engineers. and slowly we were able to turn that into action in terms of the set-up of the car, in terms of how maybe we tweak some of the developments and that’s how it went. »
« You’re never sure it’s going to produce the results you’re hoping for until you actually see these trends coming. So it’s good information, positive for us, to see that the trend seems to be there. »
However, the media put pressure on Ferrari to choose a leader in order to have a chance against Max Verstappen. The trend was naturally towards Charles Leclerc until then. But if Sainz starts to gain the upper hand… What will Ferrari do? Mekies is still vague…
« You’re right that it’s discussed more outside Ferrari than inside the team. But seriously, again, we’ve always been very clear, you know. Our goal is to have the best result for the team, Ferrari comes first. And then of course there will be a time when you have to focus more on one driver over the other if the championship position requires it. So that doesn’t mean waiting for the mathematical difference but it means being at the point in the season where you think it’s the right thing to do. »