Ferrari drivers Leclerc and Sainz ‘free to fight’ for F1 race wins in 2022

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Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are two of the most highly-rated drivers on the Formula 1 grid. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be ‘free to fight’ one another on track in the 2022 Formula 1 season.

The Italians squad boasts one of the most highly-rated driver pairings on the grid, with Leclerc a two-time race winner since joining the team in 2019, and Sainz finishing an impressive ‘vest-of-the-rest’ P5 in the championship in his debut campaign with the team last time out.

Formula 1 is entering a new era of car design for 2022 thanks to a set of regulation changes designed to allow harder wheel-to-wheel racing and make it easier for cars to follow onw another, meaning there is potential for the grid order to be shaken up and for Mercedes’ dominance of the sport to be challenged.

Ferrari have focused their development efforts and resources on the new regulations for a long time and some observers believe the prancing horses could be set to challenge for race wins and possibly the championship this season. They unveiled their new car, the F1-75, in a video filmed at their Maranello base last week.

The design features an impressive cooling ‘valley’ of vents on the sidepods, and a darker shade of red than the scarlet the team has traditionally been known for. Leclerc and Sainz will be hoping the engineers and aerodynamicists, lead by team principal Mattia Binotto, have nailed the regulation transition so that they can compete for grand prix victories and potentially the world championship.

After the reveal of the F1-75, Leclerc said the team had discussed how to handle things on track if the car is as quick as hoped, and explained that he and Sainz will be ‘free to fight’ one another, within reason.

‘Of course we’ve discussed it, I think it was yesterday or two days ago,’ the Monegasque said. ‘Yes, we are free to fight, obviously without taking any stupid risks because we are fighting for the team, and the ultimate goal is to bring Ferrari to the top. But we’ll be free to fight.’

Binotto added that he felt the discussion was a positive step for the team.

‘From my point of view, I was very happy to see these two drivers in a fully open, transparent discussion, showing a level of maturity,’ the Italian said. As we proved last year, they are getting on well together, but it’s not only the way you can see it from outside. When approaching that kind of discussion, it can be very delicate. I think that both of them are really showing and proving a fantastic level of maturity, which I’m very happy with.”

The F1-75 was given its first shakedown in a filming session at the Fiorano circuit last week, and will next be on track in the pre-season test at Barcelona beginning this Wednesday 23 February.

The first grand prix of the 2022 Formula 1 season will take place on the weekend of 18 March at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain.

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