Ferrari boss ripped apart over Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz stance

Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur is under fire, just months after taking over the position from Mattia Binotto.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza witnessed a thrilling battle between Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, but the team’s former engineer Ernest Knoors believes that team principal Fred Vasseur should have taken a firmer stance to prevent such a showdown.

Throughout the Monza race, Sainz and Leclerc found themselves embroiled in intense battles, primarily fending off challenges from the Red Bull team. 

As the race neared its conclusion, the duo was left in a position to contest the final podium spot.

Ferrari, racing in front of their devoted Italian fans, yearned for a podium celebration, but it soon became apparent that only one of their drivers would have the opportunity to do so. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Red Bull’s blistering pace proved insurmountable for both Ferrari drivers.

This set the stage for a captivating battle between Sainz and Leclerc, with Sainz ultimately securing a well-deserved third-place finish, although Leclerc’s aggressive driving raised concerns about the team’s overall result.

Knoors, a seasoned figure in the world of Formula 1, offered his post-race critique, specifically focusing on Ferrari’s strategic decisions. 

In an interview with Viaplay, Knoors expressed his reservations about the team allowing such a close and intense battle.

Article continues below

Knoors remarked, “Risky fight. What I don’t understand from Ferrari is, if you know you are limited on that tire degradation, what you don’t want then is to put two cars so close together in the middle of your race so that they start to work against each other a bit with that wear. 

“Let them both drive in free air, make a decision, let someone get ahead or fall behind [strategically], but don’t leave it up to the drivers to race, because with that, they both use up their tires a lot, and you saw at the end that Sainz was struggling to keep his tires in good shape.”

During the battle for third place, there was a heart-stopping moment when Leclerc came perilously close to colliding with his teammate as they approached turn one after he locked up his tires. 

Such an incident could have been catastrophic for Ferrari, potentially resulting in a race with zero points, despite showcasing their strongest pace of the season.

In the qualifying session, Sainz delivered a remarkable performance by snatching pole position from Max Verstappen, while Leclerc secured a third-place starting position. 

These qualifying positions offered Ferrari a genuine chance to challenge the Red Bulls in the race.

However, Max Verstappen’s dominance prevailed throughout the season, securing a record-breaking tenth consecutive victory in Formula 1 and overtaking Sainz on lap 15. 

Sainz’s 14 laps led during the race were the most by any driver in 2023, apart from Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez, underscoring Red Bull’s impressive dominance with the RB19.

Ultimately, Ferrari’s third and fourth-place finish at Monza was a commendable result, propelling them to third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings. 

Knoors, however, maintains that a more assertive and strategic approach from the team could have avoided the risk associated with the Sainz-Leclerc duel.

“I think a stronger… I have to be careful, but a good team would manage this differently,” Knoors asserted. 

“A stronger team leader here would say, ‘Guys, I don’t want to see this. 

“The race is still long; I want to keep the opportunity open for the end of the race,’ and that [would be] strategically a bit stronger.”

READ: Huge claim made about Oscar Piastri

He added, “I think they said ‘you can race till the end but keep it clean,’ and I wouldn’t have given that message. 

“I would have just said, ‘Guys, this is it, and stay away from each other, and make sure you don’t do anything stupid.’ 

“But okay, [it was] a nice fight, we saw something we don’t normally see; they didn’t crash into each other, so there was respect and skill there, but everyone’s heart was in their throat.”