Scuderia Ferrari admitted that using team orders between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz is an idea “more discussed outside Ferrari than inside Ferrari”, confirming that the Maranello team targets parity with its Formula 1 drivers even at this stage of the 2022 Formula 1 season.
Despite the fact that after the first three races of the current championship Ferrari had a solid early lead in both the Drivers and Constructors championships, as Formula 1 started a new era with the different rules and regulations for 2022, the Italian side gradually dropped by losing a lot of points to Red Bull and Max Verstappen and Red Bull since the Imola race.
Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc has an 80-point deficit to Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship with nine rounds to go until the end of the season. This is mainly due to the power unit failures that Charles Leclerc suffered at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona and at the Baku City Circuit. The Maranello team is 97 points behind Red Bull at the top of the constructors’ standings.
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and racing director Laurent Mekies have been asked several times during the 2022 Formula One championship if they would decide to prioritise Charles Leclerc and use Carlos Sainz to help the Monegasque fight against Max Verstappen, but Ferrari always pointed out that it was too early in the season to make such evaluations.
In a recent interview for Motorsport about the Italian side’s intentions regarding the use of team orders in 2022, sporting director Laurent Mekies explained that more was being made of this situation externally than it is inside Maranello.
“You’re right in saying that it is more discussed outside Ferrari than inside Ferrari,” Laurent Mekies explained – “But more seriously, we have always been very clear. We target to have the best result for the team. Ferrari comes first. Then of course there will be a point where we will need to focus more on a driver compared to the other one if the championship position is requiring. So, it does not mean waiting for the mathematical difference, but it means being at the point of the season where you think it is the right thing to do so.” – he added.
Carlos Sainz secured his first Formula 1 race win a few weeks ago at the Silverstone Circuit, after the Spanish driver overtook his Maranello teammate late in the race, as Ferrari decided not to pit the Monegasque driver for new tyres when the safety car was deployed. Carlos Sainz was called in for fresh soft tyres and went on to win the British Grand Prix.
The Maranello team was highly criticized for the strategy decision at Silverstone as well as in Hungary after squandering Charles Leclerc’s lead halfway through the Hungaroring event by mounting the hard tyres, which caused him to drop back to P6 at the end.
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Scuderia Ferrari had defended its strategy decision just one round earlier at the Paul Ricard circuit when it had to pit Carlos Sainz in the final part of the race to take a penalty and mount a fresh set of tyres when radio messages made it look like there was confusion on the pit wall
Laurent Mekies explained the delay in broadcasting the team radio messages to Carlos Sainz in France was a good example of “how different situations can be seen inside and outside teams,” and that the perceived confusion was “simply the result of the radio message being broadcast 30 or 40 seconds after what had really happened.”
“If you had to go back there, you will call Carlos back exactly as we did and do the pit stop exactly as we did, so it just shows how difficult nowadays, in a complex sport, it is to understand the reasons behind a strategy or another,” Mekies said – “That being said, we’ve lost quite a few points this year. We have reliability issues, we have a few things that we need to be better at. And yes, we are working extremely hard on it. It does not increase the pressure, because the pressure is maximum all the time because it’s a competitive world, and that’s the way we like it anyway. But it’s a positive pressure, it’s what pushes us to improve race after race.” – the Ferrari sporting director concluded.