Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has said he’s willing to cede position or fight on Charles Leclerc’s behalf if Ferrari request it of him in the season finale.
Sainz starts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from fourth on the grid, slotting in behind Ferrari team-mates Charles Leclerc on the starting grid and directly behind Leclerc’s rival for second place, Sergio Perez.
Perez and Leclerc are tied on points heading into the final race, meaning whoever finishes ahead at Yas Marina will claim the runner-up spot behind World Champion Max Verstappen.
Speaking to media, including PlanetF1, after the qualifying session, Sainz said he’s eager for the fight between Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes to get underway – Ferrari also embroiled in the battle with Mercedes over P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We’ve been working hard at [the pace], you saw us doing some long runs in practice to try and understand the tyre and the balance,” he explained.
“It’s not easy, Red Bull were a lot quicker yesterday in the long runs. We tried to pick up a bit of pace today and I think we did, but is it enough to beat them?
“I’m not sure, they’ve just been very dominant all weekend and also Mercedes are normally quicker in the race so I think it’s going to be an interesting fight where we are.”
But Leclerc can rely on the help of Sainz in order to beat Perez to P2, provided that there’s no effect on the team’s final result against Mercedes.
“I think, if we need to, I will give him a hand.” he said.
“But I guess first he needs to beat Checo [Perez] himself in the championship – I’ll focus on my own race and trying to finish the season with a podium or on a high .
“If the team asks me to let him by or help him in the fight with Checo, I will do so.
“We need to play it by the moment and see where everyone is at what time. I’ve never had a problem with letting anyone by in the race with any teammate and I don’t think it’ll be a problem for me. I’m just going to focus on finishing the season strongly, I had a very strong quali – I was very quick so I should be quick tomorrow in the race.”
The two Mercedes drivers start from behind Ferrari on the third row, and Sainz is wary of a fightback from the Brackley-based team as the W13 is usually stronger in race conditions than it is in qualifying spec.
“They’re normally quicker in the race than what they are in quali,” he said.
“So I expect them to be right there in the fight with us [on Sunday]. Actually, I was surprised to see them so far behind in quali, because over one lap, they’ve been even quicker than us up until quali.
“They will be tough to beat tomorrow, but I think we are in a good position to out-race them and seal P2 in the championship.”