Ex-F1 stars question Ferrari’s decision: Did they pick the wrong driver?

Two ex-Formula 1 drivers have raised concerns about Ferrari’s choice to prioritize Charles Leclerc over Carlos Sainz for the 2025 season onward.

Sainz, aged 29, is currently in discussions with Mercedes and Red Bull, though he’s notably close to sealing a lengthy and rewarding contract with Sauber, now under Audi’s ownership. Despite Sainz’s remarkable performance thus far in 2024, alongside Leclerc at Ferrari, some are beginning to question if Ferrari made an error in their driver selection for pairing with Lewis Hamilton.

“He is undoubtedly beating Leclerc at the moment,” stated 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, highlighting Sainz’s current dominance. “People are beginning to realise that he is a serious contender.”

Villeneuve further commented on Sainz’s attributes, “He is mature and dedicated, intelligent, hard-working, which is making the difference. Talent alone is not enough.”

The decision to sign 39-year-old seven-time world champion Hamilton at the end of the year meant Ferrari faced a tough choice, according to Villeneuve. “There are two sides at Ferrari,” he noted. “One wanted Hamilton and the other wanted to keep Leclerc. So Sainz was the sacrificial lamb.”

He also speculated on Sainz’s future beyond Ferrari, “Ironically, Sainz will probably come out with a better situation. You have to wonder if they’re thinking ‘What have we done?'”

Leclerc, 26, who secured a new multi-year contract with Ferrari earlier this year, is undoubtedly talented. However, Robert Doornbos, a former Red Bull driver, expressed doubts about his potential for championship success. Speaking to Ziggo Sport, Doornbos remarked, “Leclerc is too nice to be world champion.”

He elaborated on his observations, “He doesn’t seem hard enough when I look at the mistakes he makes and how he is with the engineers. A Hamilton or a (Max) Verstappen next to him is not possible.”

Doornbos predicted a challenging scenario for Leclerc if Ferrari can deliver a top-performing car next year. “If Ferrari produces the best car next year, then Hamilton will eat him up,” he concluded, indicating a potentially tough period ahead for the Monegasque.


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