Not only a show
The 2023 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza was not just about Max Verstappen’s tenth consecutive victory and another seasonal one-two by Red Bull. Finally, Scuderia Ferrari also shone.
The Italian team unequivocally proved itself to be the second force on the track and secured a well-deserved third place on the podium with Carlos Sainz. In the final laps, however, the Spaniard had to fend off some determined attacks from his teammate Charles Leclerc. This resulted in a thrilling, hard but fair duel that the Ferrari pit wall chose not to interfere with.
The only directive from the Scuderia was, quite obviously, to bring both cars to the finish line. In some ways, this choice appeared to be a sign of maturity for the team, capable of letting its two drivers race without excessive constraints. However, some media outlets speculated on more complex motives behind the decision not to impose a clear team order that would freeze positions and spare fans and the pit crew some heart-stopping moments.
In particular, Italian journalist Fulvio Solms of the Corriere dello Sport hinted that, with positions reversed, the Maranello team’s stance might have been different.
With roles reversed?
“Besides the excitement that we witnessed […] there remains a rather significant unspoken aspect. The fiery weekend of the Spaniard […] created a minor embarrassment for Ferrari, which is moving with a Leclerc-centric perspective. […] After the race, Fred Vasseur proudly claimed to have let them fight […]. The unspoken aspect of the team principal relates to what he would have done with roles reversed, with Charles Leclerc in the lead and Carlos Sainz attacking. […] Hence, here is the main point of the matter: does Ferrari want to continue to bet on Charles Leclerc to unleash the potential of both drivers […] when the goal is the championship?”
It should not be forgotten that both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have contracts expiring at the end of the 2024 Formula One season. Therefore, it seems likely that this winter will be filled with negotiations regarding the possibility of renewals for both of them. The two are also neck and neck in the championship standings, with the Spaniard currently fifth, six points ahead of his teammate. In this case as well, it feels like the direct rivalry between the two will extend until the final moments of the World Championship.