Villeneuve: Leclerc spoke as if he’s the lead driver, he’s not

Villeneuve: Leclerc spoke as if he's the lead driver, he's notFormer Formula 1 driver Jacque Villeneuve reflected on the Ferrari fiasco managing their drivers at the 2022 British Grand Prix, claiming Charles Leclerc is acting as if he’s the lead driver at Ferrari while he’s not.

The world witnessed another Ferrari mess, as they tried to manage their competing drivers at Silverstone, indecisive being the nicest word to say about the team who is hoping to return to winning Championships.

Race winner Carlos Sainz, and teammate Leclerc were fighting for the same pieces of tarmac several times during the race, but the team was lost on taking a call as there were endless radio discussions between both drives and the team, each driver debating in his own favor, the team indulging.

Jacques Villeneuve commented on Sunday’s race in is formule1.nl column, and praised Leclerc for being so fast in a damaged car.

“What I liked about Leclerc’s race was how fast he was with a damaged front wing,” Villeneuve wrote. “Maybe they should take another look at the design, because the car seemed to do just fine.

“But there was no logic behind the decision to let him continue on the hard tyres after the safety car in the final phase, they gave away a one-two there,” he went on slamming Ferrari’s management of their race.

Ferrari keep making mistakes

“And I keep seeing Ferrari making mistakes like this all the time,” the Canadian pointed out. “Perhaps they hoped Sainz would stop Hamilton or were afraid that Hamilton would not stop if Leclerc did come in.

“I understand Leclerc’s anger after the race, this is another example of a conservative strategy,” he added.

However Villeneuve saved some criticism to the Monegasque who is yet to learn how to communicate with his team, he said: “What he does need to work on is his communication with the team.

“Sure, Sainz was slower yesterday, but a one-two was definitely on. The moment they made the tyre change made sense otherwise, because they were losing the race at that moment. But that was not the case in the previous phase.

“Then Leclerc spoke as if he had already definitively been declared lead driver and he is not, including contractually. It’s too early for that, Sainz still has a chance,” Villeneuve insisted, as Sainz is only 11 points behind Leclerc in the Drivers’ Standings.

“He scored well today and after a good result and a poor day for the competition, he can be right back at it,” he went on. “A decision too early while two drivers have a chance at the title can also cost you as a team. Eddie Irvine left many points to Michael Schumacher in 1999 and eventually lost the championship as a result.”

The 1997 F1 Champions feels Ferrari will not be happy with the way Leclerc conducted himself on the radio for everyone to hear, as Mattia Binotto was seen waving his index at the driver in a post race discussion.

“So I think Ferrari will not be very happy with the tone on the radio,” he said. “Leclerc asked for a decision and it came: ‘Sainz has been told to pick up the pace.’

“That should be enough and then the radio messages should also stop. Banging on about it is useless; everything is broadcast and that is not good for Ferrari either. Do that behind closed doors after the race,” Villeneuve said.

Victory may trigger something in Sainz

The 51-year-old, who raced in F1 between 1996 and 2006, wondered if Sainz’s maiden F1 victory would unleash the Spaniard.

“In any case, the championship was the big winner of this race, it has got a bit closer again,” he said. “Who knows, this victory may trigger something in Sainz.

“Will he now start taking poles or winning races more often? I’m really curious about whether championship pressure does anything to him. He is an intelligent and sensible boy with a good car.

“Some buckle under the pressure or take their foot off the pedal. While others get launched and are unstoppable, as happened with Verstappen.

“One thing is certain, Carlos Sainz is no longer Carlos Sainz’s son. He is Carlos Sainz,” Villeneuve declared.

The 11-time grand prix winner also commented on Zhou Guanyu’s crash and protesters invading the track on Sunday in Siverstone.

“Guanyu Zhou’s crash was a shock, it looked worse than it might have been in terms of impact,” he said. “You never want to see cars flying into the fences, that can be very dangerous so he was lucky.

“I was also shocked by the images of protesters sitting on the track. How stupid can you be, do they have any idea how dangerous that is for themselves and the drivers?

“Cars coming at you at 300 kilometres per hour, that’s a bit different than running naked across the field. Really ridiculous,” Villeneuve maintained.