Leclerc says Sainz ignored “clear strategy at the beginning” of the race from Ferrari during F1 Spanish GP

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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Charles Leclerc was far from happy following the Spanish Grand Prix as he accused Carlos Sainz of going against team instructions in the opening stint.

The home hero made a move on Leclerc into turn 1 at the start of lap 3 to take P5. He pinched the Monegasque driver against the kerb, leading to small contact between Sainz’s right rear tyre and Leclerc’s wing.

Leclerc explained post-race that the team had set out a plan to save tyres in the early stages to try and attack Hamilton later in the stint.

“We had a clear strategy at the beginning of the race with the team to both save tyres to attack later on.

“Carlos on that lap 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 lose time between us.”I damaged my front wing because of Carlos making the turn and not seeing I was inside and that makes our race more difficult.”

The Monegasque driver believes Sainz was trying to put on a show in his last home race with Ferrari, but he got it wrong as they made contact.

“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.”

Leclerc extended his first and second stints, allowing him to pass Sainz with much fresher boots via team orders. He needed one more lap to get Russell for P4.

Nonetheless, the Monegasque driver is convinced P5 was the maximum with their pace.

Yeah, I mean, when you look how close we finished with George in front, there’s always things we can do better, but we just did not have enough pace to do anything better today. All the strategies weren’t too far off. So we had to do something different to try and put Russell under stress at the end of the race, otherwise we just had very similar pace.

It was soft-medium-soft for Leclerc, while Sainz and Russell went soft-medium-hard as they were the earliest to pit both times.

The 26-year-old is certain there wasn’t much difference between the tyres, despite the fact both Lewis Hamilton and he passed their teammates in the last stint.

“Yeah, we used soft and we didn’t use hard. Again, when you look at our numbers and I think everybody’s pace today, there wasn’t a big difference between the compounds. “I mean, it was all about a balance, but over 20-lap stints it was very similar, so it wouldn’t have made a big difference.”