Former Formula 1 driver Christijan Albers and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve have both come down hard on Carlos Sainz after the Spanish Grand Prix.
Sainz was out-qualified for the sixth race running by Charles Leclerc in Barcelona as the Monegasque claimed his fourth pole of the year, and a poor start for the Spaniard left him running in fifth behind both George Russell and Sergio Perez.
A gust of wind claimed the rear of his car a few laps later, and the trip across the gravel left him running outside the points.
The 27-year-old made a fine recovery to fourth with a damage car, repassing Sir Lewis Hamilton late on to seal 12 points.
Leclerc, meanwhile, retired from the race having been leading comfortably, and was running over half a minute clear of his team-mate when his reliability failure hit.
It allowed Max Verstappen to take the race win for Red Bull, and adviser Dr Helmut Marko theorised that, given the Scuderia’s tyre degradation – and if Verstappen’s DRS had been working properly – the Dutchman “would have passed” the Ferrari driver eventually.
Albers was disappointed that we did not get to see if this truly might have been the case.
“I was disappointed when Leclerc retired because I wanted to see what Ferrari’s pace was like on mediums,” he said.
As for Sainz, the Dutchman does not believe we are seeing the same Spaniard as the one that performed so marvellously at McLaren, adding that Leclerc very much has his number.
“Sainz just isn’t a good indicator. He was all over the place,” explained Albers.
“He isn’t comfortable in his own skin either. When I see him on camera, I don’t see the Sainz from a few years ago.
“He seems defeated by Leclerc.”
Having seen Sainz take the excursion at Turn Four, Villeneuve notes that the Spaniard is currently making “too many mistakes” given that he is in a championship-contending car, and indicated that Russell finishing ahead of him in the underperforming Mercedes is symptomatic of a poor start to the year for the nine-time podium finisher.
“He is clearly not at Leclerc’s level so he really has to be on the edge all the time to keep up. That shouldn’t happen in a car that can win races and the championship,” he stated.
“That he ends up behind a Mercedes and off the podium is not a good look.”
Perez was not safe from the Canadian wrath either. The Mexican was told to relinquish the lead of the race to Verstappen as Red Bull sealed a one-two in Barcelona.
He described the request as “very unfair,” but the 11-time race winner affirms that the reigning champion has a significant pace advantage over Perez anyway after recovering from an off to catch and pass his team-mate.
“If Perez has his very best day and Verstappen has his very worst day, only then will Perez have the chance to get ahead of Max,” added Villeneuve.
Red Bull’s result in Spain moves them 26 points ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, while Verstappen now leads Leclerc by six points in the Drivers’ Standings.