Fred Vasseur reacts to feisty Carlos Sainz display as Charles Leclerc dynamic changes

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz racing Charles Leclerc

Carlos Sainz twice overtook Charles Leclerc in Bahrain

Racing wheel-to-wheel, and perhaps a bit too close for Ferrari’s liking, Ralf Schumacher says one “can tell” the relationship between the Ferrari team-mates has changed.

This year’s championship will be Carlos Sainz’s last year with Ferrari as the driver was informed back in January that Lewis Hamilton would replace him next season.

Carlos Sainz twice overtook Charles Leclerc in Bahrain

That announcement came a week after Ferrari confirmed Leclerc would be staying on having re-signed for “beyond” 2024.

It’s left the Ferrari team-mates in an intriguing situation as while Leclerc needs to prove Ferrari made the right call, for Sainz every grand prix is an audition.

And he nailed the Bahrain one, twice overtaking Leclerc on the track to join the Red Bull drivers on the podium.

Wheel-to-wheel on lap 11, the Spaniard bullied his way through into fourth, before again passing his team-mate on lap 17 after finding himself behind after a pit stop.

“It never felt close inside the car,” Sainz insisted. “Whenever I do an overtake on my team-mate I will always try and leave as much margin as possible.

“I try and do it whenever I feel like I´m fully under control and I´m not putting any car at risk.”

Schumacher, though, says it feels to him like something has changed between the team-mates.

“You can tell that the two of them are no longer so familiar with each other,” the German told Sky Deutschland.

“It was the first race, perhaps the team should have told Charles at that moment that he was having problems anyway with the tyres and should let his team-mate through.

“Today Carlos Sainz was faster, but I think Charles’ car wasn’t quite okay.”

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Ferrari: The reaction of Carlos was not unprofessional

Sainz’s actions, though, were welcomed by his team boss Fred Vasseur.

Although he concedes Ferrari knew things could get a bit spicy this season, he believes the Spaniard was “not unprofessional” and did a “good job” in the race.

“Honestly,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher. “I was convinced that he would have this kind of reaction. It’s also why we decided to get it out early, turn the page and focus on the season.

“And the reaction of Carlos was not unprofessional. Today he did a very good job.”

Vasseur believes Ferrari have closed the gap on Red Bull but acknowledges it’s not enough.

“This is also a mixed feeling,” he said. “One year ago, I think in the race we were at eight/nine tenths, perhaps today we did 50 percent of the gap.

“But again, we are not there to be at four tenths. But if you compare with last year, and the recovery that we had during the season, the fact that we are able to fight with them in the last part, I think we have a good opportunity.

“It’s also a much better base to develop this year. I think the car is much easier for them to feel the car, from where we are weak and where we can improve. Last year it was much more difficult to have a good read on the car.”

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