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Ferrari warned F1 line-up call 'will be questioned' if Sainz takes Imola win

Carlos Sainz will depart Ferrari at the end of the season to be replaced by Lewis Hamilton, who joins following a long stint at Mercedes.

Sainz Leclerc Australia podium
To news overview © XPBimages

Ferrari has been warned its decision to commit to Charles Leclerc over Carlos Sainz “will be questioned” if the latter emerges victorious at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend.

That's the view of veteran F1 journalist and RacingNews365 lead editor Ian Parkes, speaking on the latest episode of this website's podcast.

Although Sainz was the only non-Red Bull winner in 2023, the Spanish driver will be moving on from the Italian team at the end of the year, but has nevertheless started the F1 season in fine form. Despite missing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to appendicitis, he trails team-mate Leclerc by just 15 points.

Whilst the Monegasque has fared better than Sainz in the last two rounds, the 29-year-old has taken the team's only win this campaign at the Australian Grand Prix - something Parkes feels could happen again in Imola this weekend.

"I'm going Carlos Sainz victory," said Parkes on the latest RacingNews365.com podcast when giving his bold prediction for the Imola race weekend to host, F1 and Formula E journalist Nick Golding.

"On a weekend when Ferrari sweep back into Italy... Carlos is going to go hell for leather and say: 'you know what guys, this is why you should have kept me.'"

This prompted fellow F1 journalist Samuel Coop to ask at what point Ferrari fans start saying: 'I think we've kept the wrong guy', and whether it would ever reach that tipping point.

Despite the tide turning slightly back towards Leclerc in recent weeks, Parkes feels a Sainz victory could reignite the debate as to whether Ferrari is replacing the wrong driver for the incoming Lewis Hamilton.

"You've got to start wondering at what stage," he replied. "If Carlos does manage to pull off a victory, let's say this weekend [at Imola], then without a shadow of a doubt, it's going to be questioned. Straight away, after that.

"We're going to be questioning it on this podcast next Monday, no doubt," Parkes then joked, "if that's the case, if Carlos does go and win."

'Why have we let him go, why have we retained Charles?'

Parkes went on to refer to comments made by Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur, who asserted that signing Hamilton was a "no brainer", given the success of the seven-time F1 drivers' champion, even if it did mean giving up Sainz in the process.

"I gave you some comments from my interview with Fred, as to why he chose Lewis over Carlos. He said it was a difficult conversation that he had to have with Carlos," the RacingNews365 lead editor said. 

"He ultimately believed that the right decision has been made, and for the long-term future of the team, that Charles [Leclerc] remains the better bet than Carlos. Of course, he's going to stick by his guns.

"If Carlos does win again, we can ask him the same question on Sunday evening in Imola: 'have you made the right decision?' and we'll get our answer from him. Of course he's going to say: yes he made the right decision. He's not going to turn around and say 'no', why would he?

"But of course, I think then, it's really going to start becoming a serious subject of debate" in Italy... "if Carlos goes and wins, the fans are gonna be saying: 'why him, why have we let him go, why have we retained Charles? Because he's the guy that's won us, not only the last two grand prix, could be three grand prix if he goes and wins in Imola."

Want to listen to the whole of the latest RacingNews365 podcast? Check it out below.

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix