Charles Leclerc wants answers as Carlos Sainz snubs Ferrari team orders

Oliver Harden
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, speaks to media.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc speaks to the media after qualifying.

Charles Leclerc is demanding answers from team-mate Carlos Sainz after a Ferrari team orders row during qualifying at the British Grand Prix.

As the cars filtered back on track at the end of Q1 following a red flag stoppage, Sainz was asked by the team to give way to Leclerc, with the Spaniard following the request but voicing his dissatisfaction over team radio as he did so.

When the field then queued at the end of the out lap before starting their final timed efforts of the session, Sainz snuck past Leclerc to regain track position.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Ferrari team-mates at war?

“Nice, Carlos, nice. Good overtake in the last corner,” Leclerc was heard saying sarcastically over team radio. Leclerc went on to qualify fourth for Sunday’s race, with Sainz just 0.012 seconds behind in fifth place.

The team orders controversy comes less than a week after Sainz voiced his displeasure after being told to stay behind Leclerc in the early laps in Austria, despite appearing to have better pace at that stage of the race, with the Spaniard later suffering a slow stop and incurring a post-race time penalty as Leclerc secured Ferrari’s second podium finish of the season.

Despite playing down the incident as “no big deal” after both drivers comfortably progressed from Q1, Leclerc has vowed to seek an explanation from Sainz, whose complaints he described as “pointless.”

He told media including at Silverstone: “In the pitlane, it’s something that we were expecting as we’re always trying to get the cars out at the same time as it is better to manage.

“But then on track this is where we had a bit more of a discussion and at the end, we were very tight on timing and it was very difficult for us to know whether we were going to get passed or not before the chequered flag.

“Carlos decided to overtake, which is not ideal and we will discuss about it – but it had no influence so it is no big deal.

“Obviously with the adrenaline inside the car, you don’t know if you’re going to make it through, but his radio message was completely pointless.”

With several teams switching priority between their drivers from race to race, Sainz admitted Leclerc was meant to be the favoured man this weekend – but Ferrari’s best-laid plans went out of the window when both drivers were at risk of falling at the first stage of qualifying.

He said: “I’m not upset, it was a high-pressure moment in getting out of Q1 because of the [imminent] chequered flag and we were waiting in the last corner, and at some point, I had to go to get a lap in, but [Charles] had priority this weekend.”

Sainz and Leclerc have been team-mates since the start of the 2021 season, when the former was signed to replace four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

Despite a mostly amicable partnership over their three seasons together, there have been hints of cracks in the relationship over recent months following Ferrari’s underwhelming start to 2023.

Following the Australian GP in April, F1 analyst Peter Windsor claimed Leclerc was “quite annoyed” that Sainz had denied him a tow in Q3, with the Monegasque also making a sarcastic comment over team radio on that occasion too.

“Big thanks to Carlos for the tow,” he was heard saying. “Got a bit of speed there, always nice.”

Reports over the British GP weekend have indicated that Ferrari are already preparing for Sainz’s departure at the end of next season, with a surprise name already identified as his replacement.

Read next: Ferrari preparing for Carlos Sainz to leave at end of F1 2024 season – report