Damon Hill has backed Ferrari chairman John Elkann's apparent snub of Carlos Sainz, insisting there "isn't time" for kindness in F1.
Elkann recently discussed a range of topics in an interview with La Gazzetta Della Sport ahead of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, in which he lauded Charles Leclerc when assessing the Scuderia's future title hopes.
Leclerc sits second in this year's standings, 116 points adrift of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and only 32 ahead of Sainz, who finished ahead of the Monégasque in last year's standings.
Asked if the statement made by Elkann was harsh, with no mention of the Spaniard, Hill told the F1 Nation podcast: "The fact of the matter is that Charles Leclerc, on sheer pace, is the lead guy.
"Carlos has done a great job but he still hasn't dominated Charles, has he? A bit like Sergio [Perez].
"They are a good team, the pair of them... Carlos was actually pretty quick at Monza but he is going to have to go up another level to put Charles in the shade.
"If you are going into battle against Max Verstappen and Red Bull, you have got to put your best guys forward, you are not going to not hurt people's feelings because there isn't time for that in F1.
"I thought it was tough but fair."
Elkann confession "what a leader should do"
Elkann also publically conceded to mistakes being made by Ferrari in this year's world championship, turning the screw on team principal Mattia Binotto and the rest of the management.
At least 100 points have been dropped by the Maranello-based team through mistakes, with 1996 F1 champion Hill adding: "That is what the leader should do.
"If you are trying to protect the organisation, it is no good if the outside world is saying these things because they can see it going on and then the guy at the head of the organisation saying 'There is nothing going on'.
"Mattia Binotto is obviously trying to protect the team from pressure but it takes the guy at the top to say 'Listen, we can see what is going on, this is not good enough. It has got to be better'."