‘Certainly not the drivers’: Ferrari fired Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz warning

Felipe Massa claimed the 2008 Constructors' Championship alongside Kimi Raikkonen, in what is Ferrari's last title to-date.

Ex-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has tipped Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to be “title contenders”, with the Brazilian expecting the Maranello-based team to bounce back from their issues last season.

2022 could’ve been the year for Ferrari to end their wait for a title, with 2023 marking the 15th year since they claimed their most recent championship.

The 2008 Constructors’ Championship continues to sit in Ferrari’s trophy cabinet without a more recent title trophy to join it, but many have suggested that the forthcoming season could be their year at last.

Ferrari have worked during the off-season to address the issues that cost Leclerc in particular so dear last year, as the Monegasque agonisingly watched Max Verstappen cruise to the championship.

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According to reports, Ferrari’s engine-based reliability problems have been solved and fixed, meaning that it’s down to the drivers to deliver.

“I really like them. Leclerc and Sainz are title contenders,” Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Ferrari’s problem is certainly not the drivers. Charles has shown that he knows how to win with the car up to the mark.

“Last year he paid the price, as did the whole team, after a start in the championship that had him leading the standings and then they lost all the advantage in a few races.”

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Should Leclerc and Sainz perform well, then the team must ensure that they ace their strategies, with everything needing to be perfect to dethrone Red Bull and Verstappen.

That responsibility will be held by new team principal Frederic Vasseur, who will have to make swift changes should the Italians once again suffer embarrassing strategic blunders.

Failure to implement change when necessary could ultimately cost the Frenchman his job despite having only been in the position for a month, with Massa warning Vasseur of the “enormous pressure” that comes with being the team principal of Ferrari.

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“It will be important [for Fred] to build good relationships with all areas of the team and the top management,” Massa stated.

“What’s playing against him is time, because the Maranello team hasn’t won the title for so many years and there’s enormous pressure on them.

“Everyone who has worked with him speaks well of him, he has had so much success in motorsport and has great experience in team management. But being in charge of Ferrari is completely different, in that sense it is a big change for Fred as well.”