Last May 8, in Miami, Carlos Sainz finished in third place the first GP disputed on American soil in this season 2022. In front of him were Max Verstappen, that day in the third success of the season, and Charles Leclerc, championship leader with 51 points of margin on his boxmate, who in the standings he languished in fifth place, even behind George Russell. Clicking on the ‘fast forward’ button and looking at the standings at the end of the Silverstone race, it would be hard to believe the numbers: Leclerc has dropped from first to third place in the standings and is now -43 points behind Verstappen. Above all, the Monegasque has just 11 points of margin on Sainz, who in the last five races he gnawed, race after race, 40 points to Leclerc. From Miami onwards, only the two Red Bulls of the reigning champion and Sergio Perez did better than the Madrid native.
Of course, the very large part of the points lost by Leclerc were due to wrong team strategies – Monaco and Silverstone – or technical failures independent of the driver’s control – Barcelona and Baku – but in the end, numbers count in Formula 1. Above all, for those drivers who compete for the world title, the points count. It doesn’t matter how they are obtained, it matters that they arrive. Sainz at the end of the Montreal race said he felt fully fighting for the title. Even more so now, especially if we also want to consider Leclerc able to recover the gap that separates him from Verstappen and Perez. The reigning champion in fact has almost four times the points margin in the standings on the Monegasque compared to what Charles himself retains on Sainz. Therefore it is legitimate to believe, at least at this stage, the # 55 in contention for the title as much as the winner of Monza 2019.
In some ways, the leit-motiv seen in 2021 is being repeated: in fact, last year Leclerc beat Sainz in both qualifying and races in the ‘direct clashes’. At the end of the season, however, he collected fewer podiums and fewer points. After Great Britain, the trend seems the same: the Spaniard has in fact risen to six seasonal top-3 places (one less than Verstappen) while Leclerc has collected only four. Taking for granted the words spoken by Mattia Binotto after Silverstone, moreover, Leclerc shouldn’t expect any favors from his garage mate. The same Ferrari team principal in fact in the note published on the red site had clarified that “For us the priority continues to be maximizing the team result. Team orders come only when this is in jeopardy“. Therefore the Cavallino does not want to favor either of its two riders in the run-up to Verstappen. A parity of roles that, given the trend of the last period, can only please Sainz.
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