Charles Leclerc reportedly volunteered to play second fiddle behind Carlos Sainz in order to help his Ferrari team-mate win.
While there was jubilation on Sainz’s side of the garage, the mood was rather different for Leclerc who gave up any hope of a victory in order to assist his team-mate.
That involved purposefully slowing down to create a gap to Sainz up front as well as double stacking which led to a slow stop for Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc opted for secondary Singapore role
The idea of a driver accepting being second choice seems bizarre in itself. Asking Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton or Fernnado Alonso to do that and the chances are you will receive a ‘no’ back and in Verstappen’s case, there may well be a word beginning with ‘F’ before it.
But Leclerc was not only happy to do so but reportedly volunteered to do it. According to The Race’s Mark Hughes, Leclerc put forward the idea to protect Sainz.
It worked perfectly for the Spaniard, able to keep a steady lead throughout the race but it had much worse consequences for Leclerc. When a safety car was deployed after Logan Sargeant destroyed his front wing, the front runners dived into the pits but for Leclerc that meant a double stack.
While the Ferrari mechanics were able to change Sainz’s tyres in pretty quick fashion and get him away, it was the position of Lewis Hamilton, who was also waiting for a double stack, that prevented Leclerc from pulling away.
As a result, Leclerc tumbled down the order and missed out on the podium.
After the race, Leclerc tried to put on a brave face but could not hide his disappointment over how his race had turned out.
“I knew that this race was going to be difficult for me in the first place,” the Monégasque said. “It was all about trying to protect Carlos in order for me to stop before him, so to leave a gap.
“Then we had a Safety Car so we had to do a double stack. I had traffic to go out [into] so I lost I think three positions. I was second and I was fifth after that. So then that puts us quite a bit on the backfoot.
“I struggled to restart with the tyres and traffic in general and after that, I knew it was going to be a difficult race from that moment onwards.”