Despite Not Being Ferrari’s No. 1, Charles Leclerc Tipped to Gain Momentum Against Carlos Sainz After Recent Exploits

Published 09/28/2023, 2:43 PM EDT

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In 2023, while Ferrari may not be the fastest car on the grid, they’ve got one of the strongest driver pairings in the sport. And that has to count for something. From the outside, it’s a good problem to have for the Scuderia. However, for both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, an internal battle has ensued. Who’s the number 1 driver? Who gets to build the team around themselves when Ferrari is ready to take the battle to the Bulls?

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If we have to go by the recent form that the two drivers have shown, Sainz has been a step above Leclerc ever since the action resumed after the summer break. That being said, can a good race or two tip the scales in favor of either of the drivers?

Charles Leclerc brought Carlos Sainz back to reality at Suzuka

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Sainz’s exploits on track have given Leclerc a bit of work to do to get back in the driving seat. Be that as it may, he made his first major inroads at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix. Comparatively, the Spaniard never really looked as comfortable with the SF-23 as his Monegasque counterpart. As a result, Leclerc both, outqualified and outraced him at the Suzuka International Racing Course.

In light of this, ex-Ferrari manager, Peter Windsor explained a slight change in the dynamic at Maranello. He said, “I think Charles Leclerc got back to where he would normally be in Suzuka. So, I don’t think he’s the de facto No. 1, I think Charles on that flight back from Japan was thinking, ‘I think we’re back to where we should be now’. Carlos [Sainz] is probably thinking, ‘Yeah, Charles had me this weekend.’,” on the Cameron F1 podcast.

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But don’t count Sainz out just yet. With Qatar up next, the Spanish racing ace has his sights set on reclaiming his lost honor.

Unfortunate Japanese GP will not derail Sainz

The momentum might be shifting in Leclerc’s favor after last weekend’s race. However, in reality, it still lies in favor of Sainz. Even though he was left disappointed with how things shaped up at Suzuka, he is ready to set the record straight at Losail.

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He was quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, the race was a couple of laps too short for me today and we had to settle for sixth. As always, we will analyze the whole weekend when we are back home to see if we could have done something differently, but on the positive side I think the pace was there today. We will regroup and recharge our batteries before heading off to Qatar.”

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Can Sainz demolish Leclerc at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix?

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Written by:

Anirban Aly Mandal

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Anirban Aly Mandal is a senior F1 writer at EssentiallySports, with over 1000 articles published on the platform. Anirban's love for F1 started when he discovered a copy of F1 2014 while playing on his computer, and he has since then dived deep into the world of motorsports. Anirban's expertise goes beyond just writing - he has also written several academic papers focused on the domain of motorsports.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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