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F1 | Fittipaldi: Ferrari “the team to win the championship”, and says Sainz is still a title contender

The Brazilian, who twice won the Formula 1 World Championship. Is adamant Ferrari is the team to beat in the 2022 season, and that there’s “no number 1” driver in the team. He also spoke about their nearest challengers and what they have to do to close the gap.

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F1 | Fittipaldi: Ferrari “the team to win the championship”, and says Sainz is still a title contender
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

Emerson Fittipaldi is no stranger to title races in Formula 1, having won the championship two times, with Lotus and McLaren, in 1972 and 1974. The 75-year-old gave an interview to VegasInsider.com ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP, and shared his views on how the season is unfolding between the front-runners.

He is confident Ferrari will be the team to beat throughout the year, after their strong start, and highlights how their F1-75 machine is working well across different ranges of climatic conditions and different tracks:

“To me, Ferrari has the best package of the year."

"They look reliable, they look fast in different conditions, in different tracks. They got around the new rules better than anybody else, in my opinion."

"Very powerful engine, good mechanical grip, good downforce, good aerodynamic grip," he said.

"I have a lot of respect for what Ferrari has done from last year to this year."

"They focused on this year's car and it's showing in the results now. Last year was a frustrating year for Ferrari. This year is the opposite. They are the team to win the championship. That's my opinion, for sure."

Despite that strong package, Carlos Sainz has had a somewhat difficult start to his season, missing a bit of overall pace compared to Leclerc in the opening two races, and then making a costly mistake in Melbourne which put him out of contention a early as lap two.

Fittipaldi believes Sainz will get over these setbacks, and backs the Spaniard to still fight hard for the World Championship with his team-mate:

"Leclerc has a great potential to be World Champion but Carlos Sainz can challenge him."

"Carlos is a racer. He had a problem in the last race but he'll be back strong and I think the Ferrari, the two drivers, have the highest potential to be on the podium, for sure. No doubt about that."

"I don't think Ferrari will choose who is number 1."

"I think (Leclerc), automatically, who'll be leading the championship, the next three-four Grands Prix, will have more support from the team."

"But so far, there is no number 1, number 2 driver right now."

"My opinion, looking from the outside, they have the same equipment, the same effort."

"This will be decided later in the season, not yet. But both can win the World Championship. It could be a great challenge between Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. It can happen, through the rest of the Championship,” he completed.

Carlos Sainz on track in Melbourne, Ferrari F1-75 - Image by Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

He also assessed Red Bull’s performant but unreliable start to the season, and said it’s up to Honda to deliver a strong and reliable engine to power Red Bull’s chances to fight for the championship this year:

“The beginning of the season for Red Bull and Max (Verstappen) has been difficult, but at the same time, they showed their level (of) performance.”

“They are the team that can and will challenge Ferrari. They are the team to challenge Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. No doubt about that.”

“I think they need more resistance for the engine coming from Honda. Honda has to work hard now to be more resistant. Max will definitely be there. For sure. He will be a challenge. Always. You can't just switch it off.“

As for last year’s constructors’ championship winners, Fittipaldi believes Mercedes will continue to make progress throughout the next few races, starting already at Imola this weekend, and he compares the situation of the Brackley squad with that of McLaren, who also had a difficult start to the campaign – and even predicted the McLaren could have a podium potential in it this weekend:

“I'm sure (Mercedes) will continue to improve a lot for the Grand Prix in Imola.”

“I was with McLaren in Jeddah, and Zak Brown confirmed that they'll continue to get better for each race. For the next four-five Grands Prix. McLaren is running strong but should be stronger at Imola.”

McLaren was without a doubt the most improved team at the Grand Prix in Australia.”

“Both Mercedes and McLaren know how to work within the new rules. In terms of mechanical grip, they improved a lot. The engine has also improved quite a lot. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are going to be strong again. Without a doubt. They have the potential to be on the podium in Imola.”

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