When Carlos Sainz signed for Ferrari after Vettel’s departure, he was quickly branded as their number 2 driver. There were two main reasons for this. One was that if they wanted another number 1 driver they would have gone with Ricciardo. The second was, Ferrari witnessed to their demise, that in order for a team to be successful it couldn’t have two number 1 drivers. Also, Ferrari had already handed Charles Leclerc a record 5-year contract which signaled who their long term number 1 was going to be.
However, we mustn’t forget that Carlos only becomes a Ferrari driver in 2021. At the moment Vettel is still going to be Leclerc’s partner for the 2020 season. McLaren CEO Zak Brown predicts there will be a lot more friction between those two this year.
Zak Brown speaking to Corriere della Sera said, ” In Ferrari’s garage there won’t be a nice environment. At the moment the team doesn’t look like a happy family. This situation will lead to exciting races in 2020. I think what we have seen in Brazil will have only been a prelude of what we will see this year.”
The Brazil incident Brown refers to is the crash between both the drivers that left Ferrari with zero points gained in that race. The incident took place in lap 66 out of 71. Both drivers were fighting for 4th spot, Vettel went on the outside of Leclerc and clipped his wheel. Vettel also saw his left rear tire ripped in the encounter. Throughout the season even prior to this incident, Vettel and Leclerc had on-track altercations between themselves.
This incident only made it further clear that Vettel and Leclerc weren’t going to be long term partners. Nevertheless, they’ll have to learn to adjust for a little while longer. If they don’t, it could turn out to be a long and disastrous season for Ferrari.