Formula 1 broadcaster, Tom Clarkson, has emphasised the importance of Charles Leclerc getting three wins under his belt from the next three races if he is to challenge Max Verstappen for the title.
The Monegasque started the season in style, winning in Bahrain and Australia, while the Red Bull driver suffered reliability failures in both, either side of his victory in Jeddah.
Since Melbourne though, Verstappen and Red Bull have been on fire. They have won eight of the last 10 races, seven of them through the reigning world champion.
For the Scuderia, things have been a little tougher. Reliability failures struck Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in Spain, Azerbaijan, and Austria, and those engine issues had knock-on effects in Canada and France.
The latest strategic nightmare in Budapest summed up what has been a season of indecisiveness on the pit wall for Ferrari.
They have shown that, while they are ready to compete for race wins again, they still need to acclimatise themselves to a title battle.
Verstappen holds an 80-point lead over Leclerc heading into the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, so the next three races, in Clarkson’s mind, need to go to Leclerc if he is to remain in the hunt heading into the final six rounds.
“If Charles Leclerc is to do anything about this World Championship fight with Max, he has to win these three races,” he told the F1 Nation Podcast.
“He has to leave Monza in three weeks’ time with three more wins under his belt, 75 points, hopefully three more for fastest lap as well.
“And if he doesn’t, and Max is just being Mr Consistent…that’s all he needs to be now, Max.
“In a way for Charles, it’s an easy objective – ‘I have to win these races’ – and be completely uncompromising in his approach. But he has to do that.”
Leclerc has out-qualified Sainz 11 times in 13 races thus far, and has finished ahead in seven races.
Ferrari arguably cost themselves a one-two in Silverstone when they took an age to swap their drivers over while they were under pressure from Sir Lewis Hamilton.
They eventually let Leclerc through, but he had not built, in their minds, a sufficient gap to pit both cars under a late Safety Car.
Sainz passed the 24-year-old to take his maiden win, while Leclerc finished fourth after another mistake from the team.
In order to recover some of the ground, Clarkson indicated that it might be time for Sainz to start being a rear gunner for his team-mate.
“So, three Charles Leclerc wins, and I think for that reason we might see Carlos Sainz playing second fiddle at Ferrari as well,” he added.
“If Carlos is in a position to win and/or can move over and help Charles, I think he will. Carlos is a team player.”
Ferrari sporting director, Laurent Mekies, has recently indicated that Ferrari will only employ team orders when they “think it is the right thing to do.”