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Brundle issues warning to Sainz over Ferrari driver plans

Whilst Charles Leclerc took a dominant victory at the Australian Grand Prix, teammate Carlos Sainz walked away with no points after a challenging weekend. Martin Brundle believes this could have an impact on the driver dynamic at Ferrari.

Martin Brundle has warned Carlos Sainz that he may now have to play a supporting role to Charles Leclerc following their very mixed fortunes at the Australian Grand Prix. It was a near-flawless weekend for Leclerc, with the Monegasque claiming a dominant victory from pole position, as well as setting the fastest lap and leading every lap of the race. Sainz, meanwhile, started the event down in P9 after the timing of a red flag in qualifying left him unable to set a quicker time. He suffered further bad luck on Sunday, when he experienced issues with his steering wheel on the grid. The Spaniard struggled to get his Hard tyres working in the opening laps of the race, and slipped down the order. On Lap 3, he spun off the track going into Turn 10, and was forced to retire due to his car being beached in the gravel.

Could Sainz's role change at Ferrari?

Leclerc's win has extended his lead in the World Championship standings to 34 points over nearest challenger George Russell in second. Sainz currently sits four points behind Russell in third, while Max Verstappen's DNF in Melbourne has put the Red Bull driver down to sixth. Ferrari have previously suggested that their drivers have equal status, but Brundle believes that - given the gap that Leclerc has now opened up at the top of the rankings - this could potentially change unless Sainz can quickly put himself back in contention. "Carlos Sainz had the weekend from hell, missing out on a solid qualifying lap when his friend Fernando Alonso caused a red flag by crashing due to technical issues, and then with further engine starting dramas not delivering a representative lap," Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports F1 . "Out of true position in ninth on the grid, he needed a last-minute steering wheel change which led to an awful start, and he then proceeded to have a brutal midfield fight on Hard compound tyres, eventually impatiently spinning off the road. "He may well end up having to play a supporting role to Leclerc from here, depending on how the competition shapes up and if he can win the next couple of races, which is not out of the question."

Brundle: Leclerc on a "higher plane"

Sainz's fellow Ferrari driver Leclerc, on the other hand, has been praised by Brundle for improving his performance in 2022. "Leclerc has stepped up to a higher plane, delivering speed with consistency and seemingly always a half a step ahead of this car, rather than close to the edge of the car's limit and the occasional heavy shunt as we've seen in the past," the former F1 driver said. "The new regulations suit him and he's developed confidence and increased self-belief. "Two pole positions, two wins, a second, and three fastest laps in three races rather confirms that."

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