Fred Vasseur issues response to Charles Leclerc’s complaint after Carlos Sainz contact in Spain

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc walking with Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz walking back to the garage with Charles Leclerc

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur has tried to calm the fire between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz after the two made contact at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Lining up fifth and sixth on the grid, the team-mates courted controversy as Sainz attempted an audacious early overtake on his team-mate and made light contact in the process.

Fred Vasseur tries to calm Ferrari driver spat

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Leclerc, left with a damaged front wing, accused Sainz of trying to do “something spectacular” at his home race before telling the media, including PlanetF1.com, that team instructions had been in play.

“We had a clear strategy at the beginning of the race, with both to save tyres to attack later on,” said the six-time Grand Prix winner.

“Carlos didn’t do any saving in Turn 14 and of course had an opportunity to overtake me in Turn 1, which is a bit of a shame.”

As for the Spaniard, he hit back: “I think it’s too many times that he complains after a race about something.”

The strategy eventually got Leclerc back ahead of his team-mate, the two crossing the line fifth and sixth at the Barcelona circuit.

Asked if his drivers’ clash had cost Ferrari fourth place, Vasseur told the media including PlanetF1.com: “I think you can find ten examples of ten circumstances in the race where we missed half a tenth or half a second that were after when Carlos let him go also later on.

“We missed a couple of tenths during two or three laps.

“Let us discuss and not draw a conclusion after the first comment of the driver when he jumped out of the car.”

He also downplayed Leclerc’s claim that the damaged front wing endplate had cost him lap time.

“From the data, we didn’t see anything regarding issues on Charles Leclerc’s car after the contact with Carlos Sainz,” said the team boss. “I think it was more a timing issue. Charles lost about half a second at that moment.”

More on Ferrari’s Spanish GP team-mate troubles

👉Spanish Grand Prix conclusions: Red Bull dominance over, Lando Norris transformed

👉Carlos Sainz calls out Charles Leclerc for ‘complaining too many times after a race’

Fred Vasseur: A very good relationship, but they are racers

As for Leclerc’s claim that Sainz did not adhere to the team’s pre-race instructions, Vasseur would not go into details about the conversation with his drivers.

“We don’t speak like this about the strategy of the race,” Vasseur replied.

“But,” he continued, “we knew before that if you have a look at all the races in Barcelona for 25 years now, the first stint is a bit boring. It’s more to take a position on track.

“And then when you start the pit stop to have still potential in the tyre to push. It was more the approach, but not don’t push Turn One, don’t push Turn Two.”

He, however, is not worried that the relationship between Leclerc and his soon-to-be-former team-mate is set to implode.

“Out of the car they have a very good relationship and good mutual trust,” he said. “They are racers, for sure you can have this kind of case.

“But I know also perfectly that from this emulation we are getting a lot. Last year, when we improved, it was also because you had this emulation between them and this competition all season.

“And it’s not just we have the cons, sometimes what happened today. And it’s part of the game.”

Sunday’s result, with Lando Norris second across the line, meant Leclerc dropped to third in the Drivers’ standings while Ferrari trail Red Bull by 69 points in the teams’ championship.

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