Leclerc, Sainz defend Ferrari from Italian media reports
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz defended Ferrari against recent Italian media reports of unrest backstage, with the latter saying the press was trying to “destabilize” the team.
The Ferrari F1 team has come under fire over the past few weeks after a disappointing opening race that saw Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso pass Sainz for last on the podium after teammate Leclerc retired with an engine problem.
Reports in Italy suggest there is a cultural conflict between some of the team’s senior engineers and Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna, who hired Fred Vasser over the winter to replace the ousted Mattia Binotto as team principal.
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Last week’s departure of Ferrari’s head of automotive, David Sanchez, also fueled backroom rumours.
Sainz said the tone of these reports doesn’t match what he sees in the team.
When asked about the current mood at Ferrari, Sainz replied: “Much better than what they write in the news.
“If you look back at last weekend and how many rumors have been around, it seems that this place is not at its best, but I can tell you that it is so clear to us what we need to improve, how we need to do it, what are the short term , medium and long term goals that I’m actually quite surprised at how some people at home are trying to destabilize the team.
“Some people call it a crisis but we only did one race, it’s impossible to judge a team’s performance from one race and we’re the first ones not happy with how that first race went, we’re the most worried about it and we’ve suffered the most from it and we will try to improve as much as possible. I am completely calm about this, I see that the people in the factory are dedicated, focused and have a very clear goal, and I include myself in it.
One report from Italy last week said Leclerc had met with Ferrari president John Elkann to get reassurance about the team’s direction.
When asked about the report on Thursday, Leclerc said: “This is absolutely untrue.
“There were a lot of rumors around the team, and this time, 90% of them were completely unfounded.
“So yeah, I don’t know where it’s coming from, and frankly, I don’t even want to go to the trouble of trying to figure out where it’s coming from. We just need to be on it and focus. ourselves.”
Leclerc echoed his teammate’s words about the mood in the team.
“Of course I saw those rumors and then I went to Maranello, so at first I was like, I’m not sure how the team will react to this. But then we had a meeting with the whole team, with all the employees of Ferrari, and I was very surprised. Everyone is totally involved and still totally positive, which is great. We all need to move in the same direction, as I said, this is the most important thing for me. “
Leclerc will serve a 10-place grid penalty this weekend after Ferrari was forced to switch to its third ECU of the season after suffering two separate failures before and during the opening race of the year, the Bahrain Grand Prix.