Charles Leclerc stands at a pivotal moment in his Formula 1 journey.
Such is the opinion of ex-F1 racer Ralf Schumacher, alluding to the manner in which Leclerc’s colleague Carlos Sainz has risen as the more formidable Ferrari contender this 2023.
On his end, Sainz, the Spaniard, dismisses the notion of a rivalry with Leclerc for the top spot.
“It is very clear in our contracts and in our driving that the only number 1 is Ferrari,” he expressed during an event in Madrid this past week.
“There are races where you are going to be in front, races where you are going to be behind, races where you are going to have to help your teammate or Ferrari, races where you are going to have to help yourself.
“Charles and I are quite used to it and we know how to manage it well, but surely anyone who loves Ferrari should not encourage that sort of number 1 talk anyway because first it is not true and second it does not help,” added Sainz.
Yet, Schumacher is convinced that Leclerc should be concerned.
“Leclerc is now at a crossroads,” he shared with formel1.de. “He needs to look at himself objectively, because there is no point in being a big talent who is very fast and who tries to change the situation for the better but makes all these mistakes.
“Sainz is more balanced,” Schumacher added. “Not as talented as Leclerc, I’m pretty sure of that, but he’s more versatile and at the moment is the better package.”
Sainz maintains that he and Leclerc are closely competitive.
“This generation of cars are difficult to drive,” he said, “and that’s why in many grands prix there are teammates separated by two, three tenths or half a second.
“But in Ferrari that doesn’t happen. We are always close to each other and that is a very important asset for Ferrari. We push each other a lot.”
Ex-racer now commentator, Roldan Rodriguez, however, aligns with Schumacher’s perspective.
“99.9% of the drivers right now would like to be Carlos Sainz,” he told DAZN. “A Ferrari driver who is giving Charles Leclerc – the driver who has swept everything he has ever raced – a terrible time.
“On top of that he is still progressing, so Carlos has it all.”