Carlos Sainz reveals plan to ‘bite’ Charles Leclerc at key moments in Ferrari battle

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the Austrian Grand Prix. Styria, July 2023.

Carlos Sainz looks into the distance as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc lurks in the background at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz says he must pick his moments when battling Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, revealing there are times when he can “bite” and others when he has to “control” himself.

Sainz and Leclerc have established a productive partnership since becoming team-mates in 2021, with the pair often mentioned among the strongest driver lineups in F1 currently.

Leclerc established a clear advantage in the first year of F1’s ground effect rules in 2022, winning three races to Sainz’s one and finishing 62 points ahead of his team-mate in the Drivers’ standings.

Carlos Sainz swaying between attack and caution in Leclerc fight

However, Sainz hit back strongly in 2023 – beating Leclerc to consecutive pole positions at Monza and Singapore, converting the latter into victory to become the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last year.

Ferrari are hopeful of maintaining their upward trajectory into 2024, having been restricted to just five wins in total so far this decade.

Sainz believes he and Leclerc make for a strong team, revealing his team-mate’s vast talent means he must pick his moments when it comes to getting the edge over Leclerc.

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In an interview with DAZN Spain, he said: “In every race, we are within half a tenth of each other. Charles Leclerc and I are always together.

“The ability he has on a single lap, the ability he has in the race to come back and gain positions at the start… We make a very good pair. We make a very good pairing.

“I think we are two drivers who get on very well together. I think that’s the best thing for the team, to have two drivers pushing each other. I think we have a healthy competition between us, but we always prioritise the team.

“I try to bite when I have to bite and I try to control myself when I have to control myself.”

The futures of Leclerc and Sainz are set to be decided ahead of the new season, with the current contracts of both drivers set to expire at the end of 2024.

Reports last month strongly indicated that Leclerc was close to signing a lucrative new five-year agreement until the end of the 2028 season, with Sainz pushing for a two-year extension to his deal.

Sainz has been frequently linked with a move to Sauber ahead of the arrival of Audi for F1’s next major rules rest in 2026, but has been insistent that staying with Ferrari is his primary option.

Read next: The 14 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

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