Damon Hill hands Carlos Sainz huge backing above Charles Leclerc for Mercedes

“Charles Leclerc, maybe, relies on his speed quite a lot," Naomi Schiff added

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari celebrates his third position on the podium. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari celebrates his third position on the podium…

Carlos Sainz is a better fit for Mercedes’ 2025 vacancy than Charles Leclerc, believes Damon Hill.

Sainz finished the season-opening F1 Bahrain Grand Prix on the podium, behind the Red Bull duo, with Ferrari teammate and pole-sitter Leclerc in P4.

Sainz, who was also the only non-Red Bull driver to win an F1 grand prix last season, will be out of a seat in 2025 when Lewis Hamilton replaces him at Ferrari.

Naomi Schiff said about Sainz on Sky Sports: “We saw today, again, that sometimes he asks his engineers questions and they don’t quite have the answers.

“He almost alerts them to the information that he would like.

“That’s a really good sign. He’s thinking ahead.

At some point, he came on the radio and said ‘you are not thinking about what I’m thinking about’.

“He is planning, constantly thinking.

“He’s not just a good driver. He’s a good racer and a thinking driver. He has his head wrapped around everything.”

Ex-F1 champion Hill added: “If you remember Carlos, famously at Silverstone, countered the strategy that Ferrari suggested he did.

“He knows what he’s doing.

“He’d do very well in a team that is used to running at the front.

“When you come from Ferrari, you know how a big team works.

“You can deal with all that stuff.

“It’s a big feather in your cap. Apart from the fact that he is a feisty driver.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day.-
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1,…

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur famously does not have a No1 and No2 driver policy, instead choosing to treat them equally.

But Ferrari opted to extend Leclerc’s contract, then sign Hamilton, allowing Sainz to walk free.

Hill compared Ferrari’s duo: “It seems like Charles has awful bad luck and problems in races.

“It could be a case of: does he manage it as well as Carlos? Or is Carlos a thinking driver who maybe doesn’t have the ultimate pace, but in a race it’s not about ultimate pace, it’s about management.”

Schiff added: “There have been moments where things have happened on Charles’ side of the garage that weren’t necessarily happening on Carlos’ side, on race day.

“That’s because it seemed like Carlos was ahead on a few things.

“Charles, maybe, relies on his speed quite a lot.”

Hill replied: “You’d never say that Charles has got the upper hand over Carlos.

“Carlos is able to beat him on many occasions, and has done over a season.

“I think that is a point to be made.

“Have we seen the best of Charles? Has he matured to the point where you can look at him and say he could take a title fight right the way through, without dropping the ball?”

The question was posed: would Mercedes’ Toto Wolff prefer to welcome Leclerc or Sainz in 2025 as a replacement for Hamilton?

Hill answered: “If I was Toto, I think that I’d pick Carlos.

“Carlos is someone who could work well with the team. The engineers would understand. And he gets the engineering.”

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