Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to have equal status at Ferrari in F1 2022

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will continue to have equal status at Ferrari during the 2022 Formula 1 season, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.

Ferrari was clear that both its drivers had equal footing throughout 2021, with team orders only imposed to benefit the team’s prospects amid its intense battle with McLaren over third place in the constructors’ championship, which it eventually prevailed in.

Sainz and Leclerc were closely matched throughout the campaign, with Sainz finishing ahead in the drivers’ standings by five and a half points. Earlier in the season, Binotto had declared his team’s line-up as being the best on the F1 grid.

Binotto confirmed that Ferrari will not adopt a policy of having a number one driver in 2022.

“In terms of drivers, as we often said, it’s the track that will dictate it,” Binotto said.

“The priority is always the team, but no doubt, if they can compete for an important position in the championship, it will be the track that will tell who is ahead.

“Sometimes it’s not only about driver talent and driver capacity – a driver can be a lot unfortunate, and having damages, reliability issues, or crashes.

“We will not have a policy of number one and number two. We will simply discuss it in terms of positions on track whenever it will be time.”

Despite being beaten by Sainz in their first year as teammates together, Binotto stressed he had been “very happy” with Leclerc’s performances across the season and pointed out that the Monegasque lost around 40 points due to bad luck.

“I think he’s has always been somehow very fast in qualifying, even in the last part of the season where maybe Carlos was challenging him a bit more,” Binotto said.

“I think we should not forget that in the season, there are a couple of examples, which is Monaco and Budapest, where he didn’t score. I think he has been unlucky as a driver in those occasions.

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“Without those, and it’s difficult to say where he would have finished, but maybe at least 40 points is missing from his classification. So without that, again, I think he would have been a lot further ahead in the championship.

“So that’s why again I can only judge very positively his season. He has learned, furthermore, how to manage the tyres, how to manage the race situations and the race pace. So I am quite pleased on the progress he has made.”

Ferrari has the best driver line-up in F1, says Binotto

With Sainz and Leclerc both having impressed for the Italian outfit this year, as it currently sits a joint third in the constructors’ championship, Binotto is in no doubt about how strong his line-up is.

Reflecting on the first half of the campaign, Binotto thinks that his drivers deliver more together than any other team pairing.

“I’m very happy for many reasons,” explained Binotto. “First, I think we’ve got the best line-up for the entire pitlane.

“And second because we know Charles is a fantastic driver but is continuously improving, and we are pretty happy with that.”

After a disappointing 2020 campaign, where Ferrari slumped to sixth in the standings, the team has made gains with both its power unit and chassis this year.

And although it has not won a race since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, Binotto feels that there have been chances for that this year.

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Plus, the way that Sainz (on 83 points) and Leclerc (on 80) are so evenly matched in the standings shows that both are extracting the most they can from the car.

“We had great opportunities for wins this season,” explained Binotto. “The first was in Monaco and for the reasons we know, it didn’t happen.

“On the other side, Carlos is integrating very well, and is improving race by race. Let me say that he is a benchmark for Charles as well, pushing him as well when conditions are more difficult.

“It shows how important it is to have two good drivers scoring points for the constructors’ championship. I’m very happy with that. I’m looking really forward because I’m sure those two guys will give us a great success.”

Ferrari has taken two pole positions this season, with Leclerc setting the fastest times in qualifying for the Monaco and Baku Grands Prix.

However, his hopes of converting his Monaco pole into a win were dashed by a mechanical problem that the team had failed to spot during repairs it had to make following his Q3 crash.

Ferrari’s best chance of a win came at the British GP when Leclerc led much of the race before being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton a few laps from the chequered flag.