Bleekemolen sees a surprising situation at Ferrari: ‘Sainz seems stronger than Leclerc’

Bleekemolen sees a surprising situation at Ferrari: ‘Sainz seems stronger than Leclerc’

After the race at the Suzuka circuit, all the analysts were immediately ready to give their opinion about the race. On the table NOS they were racing driver Jeroen Bleekemolen and former Formula 1 driver Jan Lammers. Not only was Verstappen’s reign discussed, Daniel Ricciardo’s fate and the power struggle at Ferrari were also discussed.

‘It was game, set, and match‘, says Bleekemolen about the race. He was very impressed with Verstappen’s performance in Japan. ‘Everyone is talking about everything, except Verstappen. But he did it flawlessly. He is in a special group.’

The accident and Ricciardo’s future

The Japanese Grand Prix got off to a turbulent start just after the start, VCARB driver Ricciardo and Williams driver Alexander Albon collided and both ended up in the wall. Although some moves to Ricciardo, Bleekemolen had a different opinion. “I thought it was unnecessary,” he says of the accident. ‘Albon should have chosen his money’s worth. Ricciardo just didn’t see him and you have to expect that when you’re driving behind him.’

Speculation surrounding the future of the Australian driver has been working overtime for some time. Yet Bleekemolen and Lammers doubt whether the Suzuka crash will have a major impact on what happens to Ricciardo. “It was very unfortunate,” Lammers says. “It’s also the team’s strategy to run on harder tires than the others. Tsunoda and him had a hard time. When the wing (of Albon, ed.) hits the right rear tire, it disappears immediately. If the bond had stayed the same, I think both they would keep driving.’

Pérez had a strong weekend

Sergio Pérez’s contract with VCARB’s parent team, Red Bull Racing, expires at the end of this season. At present, his future is also uncertain. “I think Pérez has given up on wanting to beat Verstappen,” says Bleekemolen.

‘Pérez makes little mistakes that Verstappen doesn’t. He must fear next season.’ For example, Bleekemolen refers to the moment in the race when Pérez briefly touched the top with his floor.

However, according to Bleekemolen, the Mexican national had a good weekend. “I thought he had a great weekend,” he says. ‘Obviously he is a bit slower (than Verstappen, ed.).’

Changing of the guard at Ferrari

The topic of discussion during the race analysis was mainly the performance of the Ferrari team. “There is peace and control at Ferrari,” says Lammers. “They used two different strategies and there was something to be said for both. I expected Leclerc to finish third.”

Bleekemolen finds it strange that Carlos Sainz finishes ahead of Leclerc again. “It’s clear that Sainz is the best in the team this season,” he says. Meanwhile, the Spaniard is left without a seat for next season, with Lewis Hamilton taking his seat at Ferrari. “It’s a very strange situation because he’s leaving and Leclerc is staying with the team.” According to Bleekemolen, the results of the last session show that Sainz now has a high position with the team.

“The relationships (between the drivers, ed.) are starting to become known to many teams,” says Bleekemolen. “At Ferrari now it seems that Sainz is stronger than Leclerc,” he concludes. Lammers is skeptical about Sainz’s forced departure from the Italian racing team. ‘I don’t know if it makes sense. Wanting to hire a seven-time world champion is understandable for Ferrari. But statistically, how many more world championships will he collect? If you want something for the future, you’d go with a small driver.’

There are still many races left

However, according to the men at the NOS table, it is still too early to take the reigns of certain drivers within the team. ‘It’s still a very long season. It’s very rare that you see that drivers are at their best all year round,” Lammers says. ‘Pérez is now trying to be the best Pérez. That’s great. Leclerc will soon also leave Sainz’s reign. If he starts being the best Leclerc again, you can change another guard.’