Rift in Ferrari’s Formula 1 team? Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz see dispute in a new light

Ferrari’s performance in Barcelona was disappointing. What made it all the worse was that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also got into a fight in the battle for a meager fifth place in the race. A collision on the track escalated into verbal barbs in interviews. The consequences of this four days later in Austria, however, are manageable.

Just a quick refresher: Sainz had overtaken Leclerc aggressively on the outside shortly after the start, and Leclerc had touched Sainz’s rear wheel. Tensions were increased by the fact that, according to Leclerc, there was an internal agreement to save tires at the start. Only ignoring this order allowed Sainz to attack. Leclerc then implied that Sainz, who was out of contract, wanted to put himself on display. Sainz countered that Leclerc was constantly complaining.

It seems to have been a classic misunderstanding. Sainz’s statements on Thursday before the Austrian GP: “If I had believed that there had been an agreement, I would have been the first to stick to it. You saw that in the race.” Later in the Grand Prix, there were actually team orders on the radio, and Sainz pulled over without hesitation and let Leclerc through.

Leclerc & Sainz resolve Barcelona dispute on the flight home

So if there was an agreement before the race to save tires, it was apparently not linked to an explicit instruction to hold positions in Sainz’s eyes. Leclerc downplays the emotional outbursts immediately after the race: “In the heat of the moment there is tension, people are disappointed in each other. Then we talk to each other and everything is fine.”

Carlos Sainz drives ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc during the Spanish GP
Leclerc and Sainz argued first on and then off the track, Photo: LAT Images

That is exactly what the Ferrari duo want to have done successfully after a short cooling-off period. “We returned on the same plane on Sunday evening, it was just about seeing each other,” says Leclerc. “It’s all good, we discussed it as always. From the outside it seems like a huge problem, but we have known each other for so long.”

Sainz backs this up: “We always solved these little ding-dongs among ourselves, without any help from the team boss. Sometimes I would like to keep it out of the media because that doesn’t help anyone. And that was probably the biggest mistake. Apart from that, we are doing our best.”

Ferrari duo on the same wavelength: Small quarrels are normal

“I have absolutely no fear for our relationship,” assures Leclerc. The fact that Sainz is leaving the team at the end of the year will have no impact: “No, we work very, very well together, as we have in the past. I guess these questions come because of the last race, but we have had these situations in the recent past.”

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With two teammates so close together, this is actually unavoidable, Sainz emphasises. One or two confrontations per year are unavoidable: “We are both strong guys who – fortunately for the team – are fighting for the same piece of track. These little ding-dongs have always existed and there always will be.”

“At the end of the day, it’s good for both of us when we have a relationship within the team and when we work well together on the track,” said Leclerc. “Sometimes I push the limit a little bit, sometimes Carlos does. Then it’s just about talking to each other. I’m not worried about that.”

So the driver market has no influence on the Ferrari relationship. The majority of Formula 1 in Austria is still waiting for Sainz’s contract decision. Not Pierre Gasly – he saved himself from the merry-go-round with an Alpine extension. You can find out more here:

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