Ferrari feeling 'positive energy' from Sainz/Leclerc pairing

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The early relationship between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz is bringing "positive energy" to Ferrari ahead of the new season.

It's safe to say Leclerc and former teammate Sebastian Vettel didn't always have the best partnership, with the pair coming to blows on several occasions, most notably Brazil 2019 and Styria last year.

With the German now gone, Ferrari is looking long-term with Sainz joining alongside the Monegasque.

And based on the early weeks, the atmosphere does seem to be better.

“We get a lot of positive energy from the early phase of the relationship between Carlos and Charles,” sporting director Laurent Mekies explained.

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“Carlos has been spending a lot of time at the factory. Ever since he joined us, he has been integrating himself into the team very rapidly, he is a curious guy who is open-minded. 

“He comes with interesting experience from other teams and his relationship with engineers has already felt very natural from Day 1. Now we are trying to make these experiences deeper and denser, and it is progressing very well in that respect.

“Charles knows the team upside down,” he added. “It’s his third year with us, and we can see him developing every day a little bit more as a leader. He’s very conscious of the role he has at the team, in and out of the car. 

"Of course it is easy to have a good relationship in the winter months but I think they are generally enjoying each other’s inputs and approach to the team and it’s going to be a very positive starting point of the season with them onboard.

“Ultimately, they are a key part of the team. Their enthusiasm and energy will be essential in making the 2021 campaign a decisive step in the right direction for the future of our team."

Indeed, Ferrari really needs to conjure the same spirit of co-operation Sainz had with Lando Norris at McLaren, something that was crucial to the improvements that the team made in recent years.

And Leclerc appears willing to go down that path.

"I think it’s a compromise that we need to find ourselves," he said.

"Carlos wants to beat me and I want to beat him too, and once we are on track we will try to be careful whenever we fight each other, always trying to have the vision of what we can do better for the team.

"I think what is most important is that we manage to do the separation of what happens on and off track. Every time we are out of the car we need to work together to try to push the car forward for the development and the same way also in the car, to some extent, with the strategy, etc.

"That is the fine line that every teammate needs to find. Carlos is very competitive, but as he made clear also earlier, he is also here for the benefit of the team, as am I.

"So we will have to play it smart on that one."

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Mekies does warn though that the process of getting Ferrari back at the front of the grid won't be quick nor easy.

“Of course, in the context of the frozen technical regulations and the new financial regulations we know there is a limit in how fast we can turn things around,” he said.

“Nevertheless, we have been trying to reconstruct methodically our way back to the more competitive side of the grid.

“As a race team our goal is quite simple: regardless of what’s going to be the absolute level of competitiveness of the car we are there to try to extract everything we can from its potential, deliver a strong race weekend, provide the right feedback to the factory, and do all that as a united, solid race team.”