Charles Leclerc needs to rework his communication with Ferrari according to 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who believes his teammate Carlos Sainz edged his way into the picture for the Drivers’ Championship with his 2022 British Grand Prix win.
The Canadian lambasted Ferrari’s strategy which culminated in Leclerc dropping from first to fourth but also reserved criticism for Leclerc’s communication with his team.
Leclerc was left out on hard tyres in the late safety car period whilst the runners behind all pitted meaning the Monegasque only closed up six points on championship rival Max Verstappen, who limped to seventh in a damaged Red Bull.
“I keep seeing Ferrari making mistakes like this all the time” Villeneueve, who won two British Grand Prix in 1996 and 1997, said on his blog for Formule1.nl
“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.
“I understand Leclerc’s anger after the race, this is another example of a conservative strategy.”
Leclerc must share blame
However, Villeneuve added that Leclerc wasn’t totally blameless. The 24-year-old had several frustrated radio exchanges with his team especially sat behind his teammate early in the race, when Lewis Hamilton was closing in on the pair.
Eventually, the early pitstops allowed Leclerc to clear his teammate and it looked like it’d be a straight fight between him and the Mercedes man on fresher rubber, but a late safety car threw a spanner in the works for both.
As Sainz celebrated his maiden win, a clearly unhappy Leclerc climbed out of his car and immediately began talking to team principal Mattia Binotto with the discussion not producing many smiles from either side.
The result extends Leclerc’s winless streak to seven races with Ferrari’s latest blunder adding to costly reliability or strategy problems in Spain and Monaco.
“He needs to work on his communication with the team,” Villeneuve added.
“Sure, Sainz was slower yesterday, but a one-two was definitely on. I think Ferrari will not be very happy with the tone on the radio. Leclerc asked for a decision and it came, that should be enough.
“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 curious to see if Sainz can kick on
Villeneuve finally touched on the Spaniard’s title chances. Whilst Sainz has the machinery to compete, many fans had written him off thanks to Leclerc’s perceived status as team leader.
“Who knows, this victory may trigger something in Sainz,” Villeneuve said.
“I’m really curious about whether championship pressure does anything to him. Some buckle under the pressure or take their foot off the pedal, while others get launched and are unstoppable, as happened with Verstappen.”