Carlos Sainz has turned up at Ferrari ready to integrate with the team and in doing so,. He said that it is not a team that eats and devours its drivers.
“Ferrari is not a team that eats and devours its drivers,” Sainz said.
“If you see Vettel’s career… what driver wouldn’t have wanted to spend five years at Ferrari like he has been?
“The longest I’ve been in a team is two years, so if Ferrari is a team that devours drivers, what are Renault, Toro Rosso and all the others?
“Alonso also spent five years at Ferrari. That doesn’t seem like a team that devours drivers, but cycles.
“Of course I want to have a cycle at Ferrari, create a similar environment [to McLaren] there. I already have experience in creating a works team, and I hope I have a team equal, similar or better than the one I have at McLaren. I’m going to do my best to have it.”
Of course he is right in many respects. Kimi Raikkonen is a person he left off that list along with Alonso and Vettel as drivers who have had long careers at Ferrari. Felipe Massa would be another.
What he didn’t mention is what happens to drivers who aren’t the clear number one or main focus of the team. Or, as I Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel’s case, they lose their luster within the team?
In the case of the aforementioned superstars, they were shown the door. Sure, after several years but their time had come as far as Ferrari were concerned. Then there are the other drivers.
Larini, Irvine, Salo, Badoer, Fisichella, Capelli, Berger, Alesi, Prost, Mansell, Alboreto. All names of drivers who had far shorter careers driving a Ferrari. Ok, some were stand-ins but others weren’t.
Ferrari have usually leaned more toward signing drivers who are successful or are just about to hit their stride. They tended not to hire young drivers such as Charles Leclerc. It’s no unprecedented but not the norm.
The key to the Carlos Sainz era at Ferrari will be down to his performance against Leclerc. IF he is quicker than Charles, then he stands a good chance of staying for a while and Charles might be the one to be eaten/devoured. If he isn’t quicker, his time might be shorter.
One can look to Rubens Barrichello as a driver who stayed quite a while even though he wasn’t the clear number one. He did so because he was a terrific number two and if Schumacher didn’t win, then Rubens likely did. It’s what was missing in the Max Verstappen/Alex Albon combination but was present with Kimi and Seb although it began to wane with Kimi and they moved him out.
I hope I am wrong but Carlos may find his time at Ferrari less than what he is expecting. The only way to improve his odds is by beating Leclerc. My hope is that Carlos and Charles make a great team and score points regularly and stay at Ferrari for quite a while.
I am convinced that Ferrari has been struggling ever since they fired Luca di Montezemolo and all the management changes took a toll on what should have been a terrific pairing in Alonso and Ferrari or even Vettel and Ferrari. Time will tell is Mattia Binotto can find harmony and focus to make the Leclerc/Sainz combo work.