Formula 1 commentator Ben Edwards believes Ferrari will inevitably shift its focus towards Charles Leclerc as the title battle with Max Verstappen hots up in 2022.

Leclerc leads the drivers’ championship after the opening two rounds of the season - taking the win in Bahrain before finishing second in Saudi Arabia.

Sainz has finished on the podium in both races but has not been involved in the fights for the race victories.

While Edwards thinks Ferrari will lean towards Leclerc, he is sure team principal Mattia Binotto will continue to remain fair.“I do rate Carlos, I think Charles has got that extra little bit of pace but what I do think about Carlos is that he has good brain power and he applies himself extremely well,” Edwards said on the latest episode of Crash.net’s F1 podcast. 

“I just wonder over the course of a 23-race season, I think he’s going to have a very consistent approach all the way through and I think it’s very early days to say ‘OK it’s all about Charles Leclerc’. I do think Charles does have that tiny bit of pace in him and we saw it when he was with [Sebastian] Vettel [in 2019].

“I just feel that but ultimately, in a way, the team will focus on Leclerc. He’s such as Ferrari guy, has been for a while, he’s got this massively long contract and the way he started this season, it’s tough for Carlos but I don’t see him being, like some years gone by with Ferrari’s second driver being a bit of a nightmare - I don’t see that so much. I think [Mattia] Binotto is very fair as a team boss and I think they will try to keep the two of them for as long as they can.”

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The Monegasque has had the edge over Sainz at this early stage of the season, although only 12 points separate the pair going into next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

In the past, Ferrari has had a clear number one and number two driver policy - Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello or Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa the obvious examples.

Crash.net’s F1 Editor Lewis Larkam suggested that Sainz needs to win in Melbourne to reassert his position within the team before Leclerc gets too far ahead in the championship standings.

“Ferrari have come out before the season and said that both drivers are on equal terms going into the season but I get the feeling that Sainz already is in that number two position,” Larkam added. “The first two races have been quite evident in the fact that Charles seems to have, at least at this stage, a pace advantage over Carlos. 

“We saw in qualifying most times last year he did have the edge and I think that’s going to be really key this season is qualifying and setting up the race. Already, Charles has made such a strong start to the season and moved clear in the championship. 

“I think unless Carlos wins in Australia, Ferrari are bound to start looking towards Charles as the guy to challenge for this title fight, especially given how far up the road Charles and Max were. They were in another league compared to the rest of the field.”

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Ben Edwards and Lewis Larkam were joined by podcast host Harry Benjamin to discuss several topics including whether F1 should continue to race in Jeddah following a nearby missile attack on Friday of the Saudi Arabian race weekend.

You can download and listen to the third episode in full at the following links…

- Acast

- Spotify 

- Amazon 

- Apple

- YouTube