Sainz: Chinese GP start with Leclerc didn't ‘didn’t help either of us’

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Carlos Sainz admitted that the commotion at the start of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix with his teammate Charles Leclerc “didn’t help” either Ferrari driver.

Leclerc and Sainz launched their race from sixth and seventh on the grid with the target of fighting for a spot on the podium.

But as the field entered the first corner, the pair was overhauled by the Mercedes of George Russell on the inside. Running wide, Leclerc pushed Sainz to the outside of Turn 1 which allowed Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg to overtake the Spaniard.

A well-managed one-stop strategy implemented during the Virtual Safety Car Period helped deliver a fourth-place finish to Leclerc at the end of the day.

But Sainz had switched much earlier to the hard tyre - on lap 18 - and his extended stint on the latter left him fifth at the checkered flag, just behind his teammate.

After Saturday’s Sprint, Leclerc was critical of a defensive “over the limit” move executed by Sainz in the race, which led to a clear-the-air talk between the two drivers.

Asked after Sunday’s event if the Monegasque’s maneuver at the start of the Grand Prix was a tit for tat situation, Sainz said: “I prefer not to comment, but it’s quite clear that it cost us two positions. So, it didn’t help either of us.”

Sainz nevertheless reckoned that P5 was a good result, all things considered and given his forced long run on the hard rubber.


“I think given how what our pace was today, I think better than P5 was not possible,” said the Spaniard who missed out on a podium for the first time this season.

“Also we had a very poor start with a situation there in Turn 1 and 2 that cost both cars two positions. From there on we were just playing catch up.

“We had to box very early for the Hard and then we had to one-stop from Lap 18 or something like this

“We went forever on the Hard tyre, which we were never going to go much more forward. But at least we saved P5, given the pace of the car this weekend and the decisions we took.

“And the situation after the start, I think it was the maximum we could achieve.”


Like Leclerc, Sainz acknowledged McLaren’s superior pace in Shanghai as Lando Norris’ second-place finish demonstrated.

“I think McLaren was just stronger this weekend,” he said. “There’s nothing really to comment apart from that they just were faster in every condition, qualifying and race.

“I think there will be tracks where we will be stronger, tracks where the McLaren is stronger.

“We just need to go track by track and wait for that famous upgrade that hopefully will give us some more performance.”

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