Leclerc: Sainz attack in Turn 1 ‘unnecessary’, against team strategy

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Charles Leclerc says he “didn’t understand” why his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz attacked him into Turn 1 so early in the Spanish Grand Prix when both drivers were asked to follow a pre-race plan prioritizing tyre conservation.

At the end of the second lap of the race, Sainz committed to a fast exit out of Barcelona’s final corner – not sparing his soft tyres – in a bid to get a run on Leclerc down the main straight and into Turn 1.

With a bold move on the outside of Turn 1, the Spaniard passed Leclerc, but the Monegasque’s front wing clipped Sainz’s rear-right wheel, which resulted in the latter veering off course but nevertheless emerging ahead of his teammate on the exit of the complex of corners.

Leclerc questioned Sainz's rationale behind the maneuver which damaged his front wing and impacted his race.

The six-time Grand Prix winner acknowledged that Sainz might have been motivated by the occasion, wanting to make a strong showing in front of his home crowd.

But he criticized Sainz's choice of target, suggesting a more patient approach would have been wiser.

"We had a clear strategy at the beginning of the race with both to save tyres to attack later on," Leclerc explained.

"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 because we lost time between us.

"I damaged my front wing because of Carlos making the turn and not seeing I was inside and that made our race more difficult.


"I didn't understand the point of doing that when it was clearly stated before the race that we had to save in this part of the race.

"It's a bit unnecessary, but I also understand that it's his home race and it's also an important moment of his career so I guess he wanted to do something a bit spectacular.

“But I probably wasn't the right person to do that with."

On the other side of the Scuderia’s garage, Sainz defended his driving, claiming he was simply “on the attack”. But the Spaniard also took exception with what he described as his teammate’s all-too-frequent post-race complaints.

“It’s too many times that he complains after the race about something,” Sainz told Sky Sports. “He’s obviously hot, he might think that… at this point of the season… I don’t know.

“I was on the attack. We were on a new soft, Mercedes were on a used soft, and we had to go on the attack in the first laps when you have a new tyre, try to pass them. Like we said even before the race.

“I pass Charles because… I don’t know if he did a mistake or managing too much. I nearly passed Lewis, undercut Lewis, I nearly passed Russell in the pit stop.

“I was trying out what I have to try out there as a driver. He elected to manage more, in the end, it kind of paid as he beat me at the end on a soft-medium-soft.

“For me, I elected to be aggressive soft-medium-hard and it didn’t pay off. I think George and I on the hards were too slow while the guys on soft were very quick.”

Despite their early skirmish, both Leclerc and Sainz ultimately acknowledged Ferrari's limitations in the race which they concluded respectively P5 and P6.

Leclerc conceded that they simply "did not have enough pace" to challenge the dominant Mercedes cars for a podium finish.

Sainz, who followed a soft-medium-hard diverging tyre strategy, echoed his teammate’s sentiment.

"[There was] no way to fight for that podium, but clearly the call of stopping early and going to the undercut route and anyway a medium-hard today didn't pay off," explained the local hero.

"These tyres were just too slow today, and everyone else that went on the soft, medium, soft, were clearly faster. It just didn't pay off.

"In the race I think I mirrored a bit what Russell did and I was a tenth or two slower. Charles mirrored what Hamilton did and was one or two tenths slower.

"And then obviously, Red Bull and McLaren are a clear step ahead. So yeah, not our best weekend."

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