Charles Leclerc: 'I'm not Ferrari No1, I'll have to battle Sainz'

F1

Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto has told team-mates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz that there is no number one driver for the 2021 F1 season

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in preseason testing

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc has said that there is no number one driver within Ferrari and that he expects himself and new team-mate Carlos Sainz to be fighting for superiority on track each race weekend.

Team principal, Mattia Binotto has told drivers that there is a level playing field within the team, according to Leclerc, who says the competition will push the team to new heights.

The Monégasque said that he welcomed the arrival of Sainz, who he said had brought new ideas from his previous teams and was looking for a similar style of car.

He revealed that the pair have already forged a friendly partnership, saying that he has spent more time with Sainz before the season than with previous team-mates.

Charles Leclerc during F1 2021 preseason testing

Leclerc says he and Sainz are both looking for a similar style of Ferrari

DPPI

Leclerc’s comments suggest a change in the internal situation at Ferrari where, since 2019, the efforts of the team had been focused on him rather than Sebastian Vettel.

Despite his two years of experience with the team, Leclerc said that he is not being treated as a No1 driver this year.

“While I’ve spent more time in Ferrari than Carlos did so, I have more experience with Ferrari, I don’t think there is a clear leader,” Leclerc told a press conference at the Bahrain preseason test. “I think Mattia made it clear. And that’s good.

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“I am here in Formula 1 to fight against the best and I think Carlos is extremely talented and we’ll just push each other to do perform better every time we are on track, but, but yeah, as, as the team mentioned there’s no clear number one or number two.”

During his spell at McLaren, Sainz famously got on well with Lando Norris and is already forming a bond with Leclerc, who described the Spaniard as a “great guy.”

“I think I’ve never spent as much time as I did with him before I started the season, as I did with other teammates,” said Leclerc. “We are getting on very very well, and working well together.

“He’s also very talented, and it’s interesting to see now the data that he’s in the car and comparing it. [I] can’t wait to be in the car at the same time to compare it properly.”

Carlos Sainz puts his helmet on in 2021 preseason testing

Leclerc says he’ll have to battle to beat Sainz each time they are on track

Ferrari

After last year’s miserable season, where Ferrari finished sixth in the Constructors’ Championship. Leclerc said that the team had “huge motivation” to recover, and was looking to “better days coming soon”, with both himself and Sainz looking for a similar style of car.

“With Carlos we seem to have very similar feeling of the car — very similar comments, so we are going in the same direction, both of us with our comments,” he said.

“Carlos is bringing experience from other teams – that is very interesting, and that is also giving us new roads to explore. So this is very interesting. The mentality of the team itself is still as motivated as last year and is really willing to push to better things better days coming soon.”