Carlos Sainz makes Charles Leclerc feel ‘sick to the stomach’

Charles Leclerc has only finished one race so far this season, following two retirements in the opening three rounds with Ferrari.

Former Benetton and Prost team manager Joan Villadelprat believes Carlos Sainz makes Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc feel “sick to the stomach”, when the Spaniard is ahead of the Monegasque driver.

Despite Ferrari having struggled for pace so far this season, Sainz has started 2023 better than Leclerc, with the Spanish driver currently 14 points ahead of his Ferrari counterpart in the Drivers’ Championship.

It’s the first time since 2021 where Sainz has been ahead of Leclerc in the standings, with Leclerc having very much been the more dominant driver last season.

Sainz seemingly appears to be much more comfortable in the SF-23 this year than Leclerc, with the Spaniard also being much more consistent as things stand.

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Despite his strong start, though, Sainz has been warned by Villadelprat that Leclerc “is coming back”, meaning the 28-year-old will need to stay on top of his hame.

“I see that [Sainz] is pushing from the beginning – the story of adapting to the car is no longer valid, so he has to keep it up,” Villadelprat told Spanish publication El Confidencial.

“Because Leclerc is coming back, and very strong. He has a great innate speed, more than Carlos, who has to work on it more, so he has to push and take maximum points and stay there.

“Because, at Ferrari, the balance changes weight immediately. Now, he is in front, but if Leclerc gets in front… His weight, even today, is more than Carlos in Ferrari, he is more considered than Carlos today, and the first mission is to make Carlos more considered than Leclerc.”

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Whilst the ex-team manager believes Leclerc is “very strong”, he has suggested that the 25-year-old is weaker than Sainz, with the Spaniard having been hailed for being “easier to work with”.

“Leclerc has been sold that he is number one and, when he sees Carlos in front of him, no matter how much good vibes they have, it makes him sick to his stomach,” he laughed.

“Carlos has to be always there, in front. There is something important, but it takes time to recognise: Carlos works harder than Leclerc, he is easier to work with people, he is a more positive asset, Leclerc puts a lot of pressure and a lot of fuss on the team when things don’t go well, and this doesn’t help. This quality of Carlos can be advantageous in the long run.”