Ferrari had a humbling experience over the 2022 season and it eventually led to the exit of team boss Mattia Binotto, who was made the scapegoat for a number of poor strategical calls.
Had it been for better decision-making by the Italian company and better reliability from its car, Charles Leclerc could have ended up giving Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a far more serious title challenge, especially based on how competitive he looked in the opening weeks.
Binotto and Leclerc were believed to not be on the best of terms, with the Italian reportedly enjoying a better working relationship with teammate Carlos Sainz.
However, the man who will replace him is a long-time admirer of Leclerc.
Fred Vasseur, who has seen Leclerc’s talent first hand while at Sauber, is already believed to rate Leclerc higher than Sainz.
This might lead to a distinct case of favouritism as the season goes on, according to former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher.
Ralf said, “Of course, they are very close.”
This could prove to be a big role reversal for Sainz, who was used to having the support of the boss even if his teammate was perhaps performing better than him on the track.
“Mattia Binotto was more of a fan of Carlos Sainz, whom he also brought in,” Schumacher said.
“Charles Leclerc also suffered a bit from that.”
However, even Ralf agrees that it will eventually be about the driver who can perform better on the day.
“It’s different now. But, what counts is performance at the end of the day.”
Sainz might know about the healthy mutual respect that both Leclerc and Vasseur share for each other, and therefore knows it is imperative to start the season well.
In many ways, it needs to be almost exactly the opposite manner in which he began the 2022 season.
“My goal is to be world champion one day,” Sainz said.
“I hope that if there is a good car again next year, I can be in the fight from the beginning.
“Not letting go in that first half because I know that once I’m in the fight, I’m able to stay in it.”