Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz failed to mention McLaren counterpart Daniel Ricciardo in his list of potential title challengers.
Ricciardo has had a bad season by his standards. The Australian has struggled in his first five races for new employers McLaren. It doesn’t help that his teammate Lando Norris already has two podiums to his name. He has also finished ahead of Ricciardo in every race except one.
Although McLaren has backed Norris’ strong performances with a new contract, Ricciardo is still very much in their plans. Nevertheless, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz highlighted the difference in the McLaren camp.
Exclusion from list
Sainz, either deliberately or otherwise, spoke on how McLaren are an imbalanced team. He was talking about McLaren’s chances at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and may have unwittingly belittled Ricciardo in the process.
Speaking about drivers who could potentially challenge the Hamilton-Verstappen duopoly, Sainz said, “I think there are a bunch of drivers now that are on a very similar level of performance. I would include Lando among them, that they are potential world champions, and they just need the right car to win it.”
The snub came when Sainz extrapolated his point, saying, “I would include myself, I would include Charles (Leclerc) of course, and many others. The level in Formula 1 is so high that unfortunately, we are more dependent on what the team is capable of rather than I think what we can do. But I believe Lando has the potential to win and take McLaren to the top.”
Sainz’s exclusion of Ricciardo is testament to the bad season the latter is having. When a driver on your level leaves you out of a list like that, it is a worrying sign. While it is true that Sainz and Norris are the best of friends, it would still prick Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s excuses for a lacklustre season continued at the Monaco GP, where he questioned his car’s performance. McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl, however, disagreed with the former Renault driver.
“Our car needs a certain way of driving it in order to extract the performance Lando can extract from it,” he said.
“This is not natural for Daniel. And that’s obviously an issue and takes time until you can recalibrate yourself in order to make it natural for yourself.
“But at the same time, it’s also the task for us to see what we can do on the car, change it, in order to make it more natural for him, so he can extract the performance again (that) we are all used to from him, with a clear objective to not lose overall car performance by that.”