Ferrari encountered driver conflict in Saudi Arabia

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, in action. Saudi Arabia, December 2021.

Tensions boiled over in-race between Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Sainz arrived at Ferrari for 2021 as Leclerc’s new team-mate, making the move from their upper midfield rivals McLaren.

And while it has been a calm experience for most of their working relationship so far, Ferrari had a fall-out to contend with at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

On Lap 23 of the race the drivers went into battle, with Sainz making a move on Leclerc into Turn 1 before the Monegasque cut the chicane and remained ahead.

When he did not quickly yield the position, Sainz showed his frustration via the team radio.

“Come on Charles, don’t do that! I overtook him. Tell him to give me back the position immediately,” Sainz ordered.

“Immediately, folks. Otherwise he will get a punishment.”

The call did indeed come and Leclerc obliged, going on to finish P7 after passing Sainz later in the race as the pair went into battle again.

With Sainz crossing the line P8, Ferrari have almost guaranteed themselves P3 in the Constructors’ Championship heading into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

That said, team principal Mattia Binotto was not happy to have finished behind an Alpine, McLaren and AlphaTauri in Saudi Arabia.

“We are not satisfied with the result,” he said, quoted by

“We know we could have achieved better. Our qualifying pace was better than seventh and eighth place.

“We were clearly the third fastest car this weekend, we just had a lot of bad luck.”


In conversation with Sky Italia, Binotto added: “We had the potential to take more points than we actually took.

“The many episodes that characterised this grand prix did not work in our favour, but I think we all saw the level of performance of the team and the car.

“Now we go to Abu Dhabi with a good margin of advantage against McLaren in the fight for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship. Charles also took P5 in the Drivers’ Championship.

“We have to stay focused and get ready in the best possible way for the final effort before finally putting an end to this season and thinking only about 2022.”

Ferrari hold an advantage of 38.5 points over McLaren heading into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla


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