Former Ferrari sporting director Cesare Fiorio says Carlos Sainz is not Charles Leclerc’s “wingman” and proved that when he claimed his first F1 win at the British Grand Prix.
Sainz clinched his first F1 grand prix win at Silverstone on Sunday, chasing up his pole position with a race win.
It was a victory that, while Leclerc was quick to congratulate his team-mate, the 24-year-old felt could have been his had Ferrari not left him out while the rest of the podium contenders pitted for fresh soft tyres under a late Safety Car.
That decision baffled Fiorio.
“I watched the grand prix with some friends and as soon as I realised there was going to be a Safety Car I said ‘if I was on the wall I’d call the cars to fit the soft tyres’ which actually happened but unfortunately this it was not done with Charles Leclerc,” he told formulapassion.it.
“I don’t know why they didn’t call him in because at the start, with the hard tyres, it was an unequal fight for Leclerc. They shouldn’t penalise Leclerc in this way.”
But, he adds, it was a “deserved” win for Sainz with the Spaniard showing the world that he is not number two to Leclerc.
“It was important to emphasize that Carlos Sainz is not Leclerc’s wingman,” the 83-year-old continued.
“He is an equally good driver and is capable of competing and achieving results for Ferrari at a high level.
“Sure, Leclerc is stronger than him in qualifying, but by a few hundredths of a second, but in the race they are both worth the wheel they have.
“Sainz deserved that victory, he was not the wingman of another driver, he was a driver who was making his career.”
Leclerc had raced out to a 51-point advantage over his team-mate after the Miami Grand Prix, but that gap is now down to just 11 points.
That was the last grand prix that the Monégasque driver featured on the podium with Sainz having bagged three podiums since his team-mate’s last top-three result.
“Despite the accidents Sainz had at the beginning of the season, now they are very close in the standings,” Fiorio added.
“Anyway, I didn’t understand why they didn’t put Leclerc on the soft tyres as well, even though this would have resulted in a double pit stop with a loss of two or three seconds, but no more.”