Coming off the back of a terrible 2020 season, Ferrari was looking to revitalise itself in 2021, with new recruit Carlos Sainz teaming up with Leclerc, in place of exiting Sebastian Vettel. As 2021 unfolded, it was clear that Sainz was the right man for the job: the Spaniard could match the speed of highly-rated team-mate Leclerc, and deliver some stellar race performances, notably his podium finishes in Monaco, Hungary, Russia and Abu Dhabi, and a superb recovery to P8 in Turkey after starting last.
Another trait of the Spaniard is his work ethic, according to the team’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies. According to Motorsport.com, Mekies praised how Sainz and Leclerc work together with their feedback on the car, envisaging for the best of the Maranello squad, with that being one of the team’s “strong points”:
"We think it's one of the strong points we do get now, not only because they describe what they feel, but also because they have the will and motivation to go back and work with us on finding solutions.
"They do it with different words, so we can click things together. They don't always agree, which again gives us a chance to look at things in a wider way.
"I think the short answer is yes, we think that part is working well. There is always more to come because of the way it is.
"But the way they complement each other, Carlos and Charles, is at the moment as good as it gets."
"The level of respect, the level of desire to work together, the level of trust in both as characters and in technical abilities, is huge."
Another point of praise from Mekies is how they work even harder in order to overcome adversities, citing the example of the Saudi Arabian GP, in which Ferrari didn’t look particularly fast on Friday’s free practice sessions, ending the day with Sainz in P7 and Leclerc P10, but the latter with his car smashed in a tyre barrier just minutes away from the chequered flag:
"They both share the same drive to push the team to recover. If you look in Saudi [Arabia], on Friday night, we were not great. We didn't want to settle for it.
"We never want to settle for it, but there was just that spirit, and it's second to last race or whatever, just that spirit, there is something more.
"We knew there was something more that was there in the car that we couldn't quite grasp.
"Then the race circumstances were the race circumstances, but if you look at the first stint of the race before the first red flag, Charles was a comfortable fourth, [Sergio] Perez was behind.
"So ultimately, a strong race pace came out from that.”, Mekies said.
With the two drivers always close to each other on pace, and the 2022 regulations prompting, possibly, a chance for Ferrari to get back in the hunt for ultimate glory in the world championship, a natural point of concern would be to decide which driver will lead that charge. But Team Principal Mattia Binotto isn’t concerned, believing “the track will dictate” who should be the lead driver if there is a championship at stake, and that discussions about the matter will take place in due course:
“In terms of drivers, as we have often said, I think it is the track that will dictate it,” he said.
“The priority is always the team, but no doubt, if they can compete for an important position in the championship, it will be the track that will tell who's ahead.
“And sometimes, I think it's not only about driver talent or driver capacity. A driver can be a lot unfortunate, and have damage, reliability issues, or crashes.
“So I don't think that we need at this stage, and certainly we will not have a policy, of number one or number two. We will simply discuss it based on positions on track whenever it will be time,” Binotto concluded.