Ferrari: Still too early for Leclerc-Sainz team orders

Jon Wilde
Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on Spanish GP qualifying day. Barcelona May 2022.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz's Ferraris close together on Spanish Grand Prix qualifying day. Barcelona May 2022.

Ferrari maintain it is still too early in the season to implement what Red Bull did in the Spanish Grand Prix and impose team orders on their drivers.

With the World Championship potentially looking like a head-to-head battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, Red Bull ensured Sergio Perez played the team game in Barcelona.

After a Verstappen spin earlier in the race, Perez, who had kept it clean, found himself leading with the Dutchman behind him in second. Red Bull applied the ‘switcheroo’ and that meant the reigning World Champion won the race to also move ahead in the standings.

The man he displaced, Leclerc, had been well on course for victory himself until his Ferrari power unit failed approaching the halfway mark of the race and he had to retire.

But Ferrari do not believe the time has arrived to execute team orders like Red Bull did, with Leclerc now six points behind Verstappen, 19 ahead of third-placed Perez and, most relevantly of all in this context, still 39 clear of his team-mate Carlos Sainz – who finished fourth in Spain after an early spin that dropped him well down the order.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz shake hands after qualifying. Spain May 2022
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz shake hands after qualifying, Max Verstappen in the background. Spain May 2022

“No, I think it’s very early days for that,” said Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies at a press conference before qualifying in Barcelona.

“I think if you had a look at last year, points difference at the beginning of the season, you could have said the same thing. And in the end, things change.

“We are pushing a lot to make sure Carlos can adapt, Carlos can get more comfortable. He has shown extremely strong performance last year, we are convinced he will develop stronger performance in the very short term.

“So, it’s race six of 22 races, we are very, very far from having the good problem you are talking about. It is a topic for much later.”


Even though it appeared clear for all the world to see what Red Bull had done by switching Perez and Verstappen in Barcelona, team principal Christian Horner refused to label it as team orders – he instead insisted the pit wall personnel were trying to avert a DNF.

“The last thing you want to risk is a DNF when you have two cars that can potentially finish one-two, and they were on different strategies, so it wasn’t a straight fight – Max had such a tyre advantage,” said Horner.

“Our responsibility is to bring the cars home with as many points as we can. From a team perspective, there’s just no point in taking that risk with temperatures raging up and down. So it was absolutely the right thing to do.”


Torquing Point: Ferrari have wasted their strong start to the season - Spanish GP Conclusions

After starting off the season so brightly, Ferrari have looked rather sluggish in the last three races and consequently have blown their leads in both championships, with Red Bull overtaking them in the Constructors' Championship and Max Verstappen leaping Charles Leclerc in the Drivers'.