Carlos Sainz needs to stay “calm” in order to ride the waves of mounting Ferrari pressure.
That is the advice of Stefano Domenicali, a former Ferrari team boss who is now Formula 1’s chief executive.
He was speaking after championship leader Ferrari’s calamitous home race weekend at Imola, Charles Leclerc fumbled and Spaniard Sainz’s shaky start to his 2022 campaign rolled into another installation.
“Carlos is certainly a very talented driver,” Domenicali told Rai2 television. “Unfortunately, Ricciardo touched him on a slippery track.
“But these are episodes that if you don’t know how to manage them well, you can get into psychological difficulties that are difficult to deal with,” the Italian warned.
“He has renewed his contract for another two years, so the guarantees are there, he just has to be calm and he will certainly achieve excellent results.”
Domenicali also hailed championship leader Leclerc’s main 2022 rival, reigning world champion Max Verstappen, who bounced back at Imola to dominate the entire race weekend.
“Verstappen is a champion,” he said. “He proved it in his determination until the very last corner of last year.
“He is maturing as a driver and with his attitude to racing, he now knows when to manage the car and when to attack.
“The beauty of Formula 1 in recent years is certainly the presence of these talented drivers.”
Domenicali included Leclerc as an obvious star of the new era, but F1 legend Gerhard Berger has some criticism after the Monaco-born star’s Imola mistake.
“You can’t afford to make mistakes like that,” he told Servus TV.
“He had all the time in the world – and then this serious mistake. The points he lost can hurt a lot in the end.
“You can see that Verstappen is more aggressive in their duels too. Charles is a good driver,” said Berger, “but now he has to deliver.
“Journalists often ask me whether the Ferrari drivers are good enough, and I always say ‘give them a good car and we’ll see’.
“Now we will see how good the two of them really are.”
Berger drove for the fabled Maranello team over two separate stints in the 80s and 90s, but he is also closely aligned with Red Bull – who he tips for ultimate victory this year.
“I see the advantage for Red Bull this year, because when the tyres work, they are fast. Sergio Perez has also taken a step, although he is still behind Max.”
As for the formerly dominant Mercedes team, Berger joins those who think George Russell currently has the edge over seven time world champion in the uncompetitive 2022 car.
“It’s very simple,” he told f1-insider.com. “Russell risks more because he’s younger.
“If Lewis was fighting for victories, he too would drive with a knife between his teeth. Understandably, that no longer makes sense for him when it’s for 13th.
“Lewis’ goal is to become the sole record holder with the eighth title.”