Carlos Sainz: ‘Quite clear’ Charles Leclerc defence ‘didn’t help either of us’

Thomas Maher
Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz said it was evident the two Ferraris had cost themselves time and positions at the race start.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said he and Charles Leclerc fighting at the race start in China hadn’t helped either driver.

The two Ferrari drivers fought hard through the opening corners of the Chinese Grand Prix, with Leclerc ensuring Sainz didn’t get past him.

Carlos Sainz: It cost us both positions

With a little tension between the two Ferrari drivers following Saturday’s Sprint race, due to Sainz defending hard against Leclerc through the hairpin before the Monegasque driver got in front, Leclerc appeared to get his payback at the race start on Sunday.

Negotiating the first corner, Leclerc ran Sainz out wide to ensure the Spaniard couldn’t get past him but, in the process, cost themselves position.

Speaking after the chequered flag, Sainz was asked about the situation and said it was evident their fight had not benefitted either driver.

“I’d prefer not to comment, but it’s obviously quite clear that it cost us both positions,” he said.

“So yeah, it didn’t help either of us.”

Having recovered to fifth by the chequered flag, Sainz explained the strategy Ferrari had employed.

“I think, given what our pace was today, I think better than P5 was impossible,” he said.

“Also, we had a very poor start with a situation there in Turns 1 and 2 that cost both cars two positions.

“From there on, we were just playing catch up – we had to box very early for the hard. Then we had to one-stop from Lap 18 or something like this, which went forever on the hard tyre, which we were never gonna go much more forward.

“At least we saved P5, but given the pace of the car this weekend, the decisions we took, and the situation after the start, I think it was the maximum we could achieve.” recommends

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Fred Vasseur: If we lost something, it was in the last stint

Speaking to the media in Shanghai following the chequered flag, Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur dismissed the idea that the drivers fighting at Turn 1 had cost them a better position by race end.

“It’s not a good help to lose a position at the start. But, in the end, we were behind Perez and Norris at the start, and we finished behind them also at the end of the race,” he said.

“I think, if we lost something, it was in the last stint.

“Carlos was a bit unlucky with the timing of the pitstop because he did either three or four laps before the VSC and then the Safety Car, and he was a bit scared to do a very long stint with the last set of hards.

“He was a bit conservative at the beginning but he did very well to manage the long stint like this.

If we missed something today, it was starting from too far away on the grid, and this is more yesterday than today. We were a bit less performing on the hard than on the medium – the medium was under control and I think that we were in a good position at the end of the medium stint. But we lost a bit of ground with the hard.”

As for how Vasseur had dealt with the tension between the drivers following Saturday’s race – tension both drivers had attempted to defuse themselves in the media pen afterward – he explained he didn’t get involved.

“I didn’t speak with them,” he said.

“The start – the track was quite wide at Turns 1 and 2 and there was no contact. We lost one or two positions, so it was not the best position to try, but I will discuss with them after.”

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