Vasseur downplays Leclerc’s Spanish GP criticism of Sainz

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Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur dismissed Charles Leclerc's claim that his early-race contact with teammate Carlos Sainz significantly impacted his performance in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Scuderia boss sought to calm the waters after Sunday’s event in Barcelona after Leclerc publicly criticized an aggressive move by Sainz into Turn 1 in the early stages of the race.

The Monegasque took exception to his teammate’s maneuver claiming that it went against Ferrari’s strategy which called for a conservative approach to the opening laps of the race to manage tyres.

But more importantly, Leclerc noted that the slight contact that occurred between the two drivers had damaged his front wing, which hindered his performance and potentially limited his ability to finish higher than fifth at the end of the day.

However, Vasseur downplayed the consequences of Leclerc’s brush with his teammate, arguing that other factors could have contributed to the time Leclerc lost to eventual fourth-place finisher George Russell.

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“You can find 10 examples of 10 circumstances in the race where we missed half a second or others that were after when Carlos let him go also later on,” Vasseur said.

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

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

Regarding the existence of a specific pre-race game plan to manage tyres in the opening stint, or whether Sainz willfully disobeyed it as Leclerc suggested, Vasseur was evasive.

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

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

“And then when you start the pit stop to have still potential into the tyre to push. And it was more the approach, but it’s not that don’t push Turn 1, don’t push Turn 2.”

Vasseur rejected any concerns of a rift developing between Ferrari’s drivers, highlighting the benefits of their rivalry for the team's overall performance.

“No, out of the car they have a very good relationship and good mutual trust,” he explained.

“Now 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, if we recover, it’s also because you had this emulation between them and this competition all over the season.

“And it’s not just we have the cons, sometimes what happened today, but it’s not the match on the car was nothing. And it’s part of the game.”

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