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'Will the real number one driver at Ferrari please stand up?'

Who is the leader at Ferrari? Frederic Vasseur of course, but which of the two drivers is the number one? Former F1 driver Christian Klien answers that question in conversation with RacingNews365.

Sainz Leclerc Brazil
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After a roaring start to the new F1 era - Charles Leclerc won the first race in Bahrain in 2022 - things went downhill for Ferrari last year. This year it went from bad to worse, although there was a highlight in Singapore when Carlos Sainz provided the only non-Red Bull win of the F1 season.

It was also the first year of team boss Fred Vasseur, who replaced Mattia Binotto after the disappointing end to 2022. After a very disappointing start to the year, Ferrari managed to turn things around midway through the season.

In the end, it narrowly missed out on second place after a close battle with Mercedes. In 2024, the team hopes to take another step forward and close the gap to Red Bull.

Former F1 driver Christian Klien looks back on the 2023 season with RacingNews365. How does he think Vasseur did during his first season at the helm in Maranello? "A good question," he laughs. "He has integrated himself well within the team. It takes time."

"Personally, I think highly of Fred. I like him as a person and he now has the chance to really change things at Ferrari. It takes time. Everything is running just a little smoother this year.

"A little less chaos in terms of strategy, except for maybe Abu Dhabi. Things are a little calmer inside Ferrari. The question now is how to take the next step and how to develop a faster car, so that they don't have problems with tire wear during the races and don't have to push the car too much anymore."

Who is Ferrari's number one driver?

Klien believes Ferrari has one of the strongest driver lineups on the grid in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, especially considering it was looking like the latter was not delivering during the 2022 season.

"This year Carlos has shown what he has to offer. Ferrari has a good lineup. The two drivers get along well. They push each other because they have different strengths. Leclerc has a bit more natural speed, but Carlos is a very hard worker. That dynamic works pretty well," explains Klien.

But who is the real leader within the team? Leclerc came through their junior driver programme, while Sainz behaves like a true leader on the track by engaging in discussions with his team and opposing them.

"I have exactly the same feeling. I don't think there is a number one driver at Ferrari," says KIien.

"If it is about pure speed, then maybe Leclerc, because he is the Ferrari driver at the moment. Both drivers are very good in my opinion. If you ask the team, there is no number one driver, because they both have other strengths. Sainz also needs them. He gives very good input and is really a fighter, a smart guy. Also behind the scenes, with the help of his father, they have positioned Carlos 'politically' well within the team."

"So I don't think there is a number one driver at the moment," concludes Klien. Still, he points to one that he believes will come out on top if the title battle turns into a Ferrari battle. "However, if they have the best car, and fight among themselves for the world title, I think Leclerc will come out on top. He has just a bit more natural speed."

Will that be the case by next year? It seems strong to Klien, but he does hope that Ferrari will be back in the spotlight a bit more. "What Ferrari can do next year? That all depends on the car. They are going to build a new car, with a different concept. I hope they take a step forward and that the teams get closer together. In the last part of the year they already got stronger and almost caught Mercedes in the battle for second place. It should be a step better next year."

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