What Constitutes an Alpha Pilot in a Team Formula 1? As in nature, it is defined as the individual who shows the greatest strength and aggression, who maintains the strongest position within his group. The key to staying on top, at least in the top flight, is not only beating your opponent (your teammate), but also forging strong alliances in the group (your team).
When it comes to the big three teams in F1 2021, the alphas are expected to be: Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, Max Verstappen at Red Bull and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari. Unless there are more changes ahead, the challengers will be Valtteri Bottas, Alexander Albon and Carlos Sainz, respectively.
Taking up the theme of the new guy at Ferrari, I was more than a little intrigued by what the team principal, Mattia Binotto, had to say on the subject today at a conference in the Motor Valley Fest in Italy. First, he discussed the reason for the departure of Vettel, who does not seem to like a number two role, and then discussed the reasons for the signing of Carlos Sainz.
“In recent weeks, the world has changed, not only from an economic point of view but also from a technical and sports point of view,” said Binotto. “There are challenges ahead and obstacles that will be difficult. We are laying the foundation for our future. We want to have a specific perspective, and we talked to Sebastian and found that we did not share the same goals in both the short and long term. “
“Sainz is a great addition. He is very smart, very young, but he has played five seasons in the past, he is a strong and reliable driver who has achieved many points in races, and for us he is a great driver who combines with the pure talent of Charles, so that he can grow and win. “
I read that last line in two ways. In the way I’m pretty sure he was, Binotto says Carlos can grow and win with the team, and of course they’ve signed him on to succeed, as Ferrari looks forward to the constructors’ championship after the dominance it has established. Mercedes in this era.
But, could it not also be read that a “reliable” Carlos, who scores, is there to be “paired with the pure talent” of Leclerc, so perhaps it is Charles who “can grow and win” (championships)?
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Alexander Albon, Red Bull RB15, and Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren and George Russell, Williams
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
I am a great believer in Sainz’s abilities. He’s fast, with a great ranking record against those he was paired with in Toro Rosso, a roster that includes Max Verstappen. He is consistent and has 267 points after 102 starts. He was the best of the rest last year, and he totally deserves his chance on a great team. I was a little disappointed in his season with Renault, but I feel like he bounced back very well with McLaren in 2019, so for Ferrari it was an obvious choice in 2021.
But let’s not forget one thing: when this season begins, Vettel will be the former wounded alpha at Ferrari. How much fight will he have left when we get back on the court? Will you mount another bet to be the team leader? Or will you just turn around and enjoy Sundays as a walk? Thinking about his reaction to the famous Multi-21 at Red Bull, the question arises whether he is ready to play for the team.
Thinking of 2021, I don’t see immediate alpha confrontations beyond the natural ebb and flow of pilot strength. Hamilton is the highest in terms of years, but has shown little sign of weakness for Bottas to oust him. Albon will have to make a big jump to reach Verstappen’s level.
If Leclerc powers Ferrari as one might expect, and goes further in their hearts as he did at Monza last year, it will take a tremendous effort for Sainz to be more than his number two when he arrives, unless there is an inspired Leclerc crisis. at Vettel.
First of all, you can be sure that Carlos will be watching you like a hawk.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari and Carlos Sainz, McLaren
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images