“He is fighting more me than others” — Leclerc unhappy with Sainz’s driving during F1 Chinese GP Sprint as contact is made

Photo Credits: Scuderia Ferrari
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After a tough qualifying in the rain yesterday for the Sprint, Sainz qualified P5 while Leclerc in P7. Ferrari decided to go on different strategies in the 19-lap race as Sainz started the on a new medium versus Leclerc started on 4-lap old mediums.

Both of them gained a position on the first lap of the 19 lap Sprint as Norris, who started on pole, ran wide in turn 2 causing him to drop behind Leclerc.

The race was smooth sailing until lap 15 as both Leclerc and Sainz were stuck in a DRS train in the battle for third place with Alonso masterfully holding up the Ferraris, Perez and Norris. The Mexican was in between the Ferraris at this point..

On lap 16, Sainz went round the outside of turn 7 making a move on Alonso which caused them to make light contact. The two-time F1 World Champion was not making it easy for Sainz as he dived down the inside at turn 9. It forced Sainz wide allowing Perez to go through for third place, with Alonso keeping P4 as Sainz dropped two spots.

The contact Alonso had from Sainz caused a puncture and was forced to retire the car after the Ferrari driver went for an aggressive move into turn 11 following the turn 9 incident.

Leclerc got through into turn 12 on the Aston Martin and that started the battle between the Ferraris, with Sainz in P4 and Leclerc in P5.

At turn 15, Leclerc was ahead going into the corner but on the outside. Sainz ran Leclerc off the road to stay ahead. The Spaniard had missed the apex and made light tyre to tyre contact with his teammate

Leclerc managed to get past Sainz as Sainz drifted wide into turn 2 on the next laps, allowing the Monegasque to claim P4 in the Sprint.

Leclerc was not happy with the aggression of his teammate. He voiced his displeasure on the radio after crossing the line.

“Yeah, let‘s speak after. He [Sainz] is fighting more me than others.”

After the Sprint, Leclerc gave his side on the incident with his teammate, understanding it was not easy for both of them as Sainz was struggling with traction during the final few laps.

“You know how it goes when we battle, sometimes I’m the aggressive one, but today it was definitely Carlos. We’ll talk about this, because we were in different situations and it could have been handled better.

“Carlos was struggling with the tyres and I was in a better place instead, we lost so much time there so it’s a shame, and we’ll talk about that.

“It’s a bit of a shame that we lost that gap to Perez and couldn’t go and take him, but it’s like this at the end, P4, it could have been P3, one point, you can always do better.”

Sainz then gave his side of events afterwards as well. The Spaniard pushed hard early on to try and pass Verstappen, but he failed to do so.

The Australian Grand Prix winner ended up in that big fight with Alonso, Perez and Leclerc, losing out for the most part.

“I was pushing Max hard at the beginning because I knew if I was passing him I had a strong chance of winning the race.That probably killed my tyres a bit.

“And then I was managing for the rest of the race until I caught Fernando and then behind Fernando I think I did a really good move around the outside of turn 7.

“I think from then on he decided to do a bit of all or nothing into me into turn 9 which cost us both the race because I think he picked up, I picked up damage and a lot of dirt in my tyre from that optimistic move.

“From there on I was sliding around with the damage on the car and dirt on my tires and I was doing everything I could to defend and obviously sliding maybe had a bit of a moment there with Charles.

“I apologise if I did something over the limit but we were all racing really hard today and I was trying my best to keep it under control out there.”

The stewards decided no further action was required.

The Ferraris are having an extremely close competition this season with mere 5 points seperating them in the Drivers’ Championship, with Leclerc in P3 and Sainz in P4.

As Sainz is without a contract for 2025 at present, there is no doubt we will see more tough battles to come.