Leclerc: No team order quarrel – position swap was planned


Charles Leclerc insists there was no disagreement with his Ferrari team over an order to swap positions with Carlos Sainz in Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix, a scenario that had been planned beforehand.

Leclerc and Sainz finished respectively P5 and P6 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but the running order was inversed at one point to allow the Spaniard, who was on a fresher set of tyres, an opportunity to try and catch fourth-place man Pierre Gasly, which Leclerc had been unable to do.

However, Leclerc took longer than expected to wave his teammate through, and tensions appeared to be building between the two drivers, with Sainz suggesting that his team mate was deliberately making mistakes to keep him behind.

But after the race, Leclerc said the delay was simply due to track positioning and how the swap - which had been considered before the race - was being managed by the Ferrari pitwall.

"It was already discussed before," explained the Monegasque. "So there was just one lap where they asked me to let him by but I was overtaking, I think, a blue flag car in front of me, so I didn’t do it that lap.

"And then the next lap I was asked to not do it anymore and then we did do it a bit later on. But overall everything was clear and as soon as I’ve been asked, I did it."

After Sainz was fruitless in his efforts to reel in Gasly, the Spaniard handed back to Leclerc the P5 position.

"On my side, we [stopped] very early to try and put some pressure on Pierre in front for him to stop and let Carlos go long, to create a tyre delta as well for the end of the race," added Leclerc.

"Everything worked pretty well but once we went on the hard, on my side I struggled massively, Carlos a little bit less.

"But still we didn’t have the pace of Pierre in front, so we didn’t quite make it, but I think today it shows the good team spirit there is and yes, that’s good to see. We maximised everything today, I think."

Sainz said that he lost out at the start because of the commotion at the first corner but executed otherwise one of his best races of the season that, coupled with his teammate's result, has allowed Ferrari to comfortably overhaul McLaren and seize third in the Constructors' standings

"We put together probably one of my best races of the season in terms of pure pace with an unlucky bit at the start – but today we were really quick," he said.

"The two crashes [at the start], they were just in front of me and I had to take avoiding action which made me lose positions that I shouldn’t have lost, but that’s how it goes sometimes in racing.

"From there on we put our head down, we showed the pace that we’ve shown all weekend – we were really quick.

"I managed to… obviously get the team order to go past Charles and then try and catch Gasly, but Gasly was very strong this weekend and we couldn’t make it stick. But very strong pace all day.

"We did what we wanted, which was to outscore McLaren by a fair bit. We had a good opportunity this weekend, we managed it, and now we go into the last four races of the season with the upper hand in the championship.

"It’s going to be tight, I think there’s going to be tracks where they’re going to have the quicker car but now we need to focus to keep working well as a team like we did today, and keep going forward."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter