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Ferrari Drivers Cannot Afford To Fight Each Other

  • 3 min read

Charles Leclerc warned that Ferrari cannot afford a fight between him and Formula One team mate Carlos Sainz at the Austrian Grand Prix after they went wheel-to-wheel in a Saturday sprint.

Leclerc came out ahead of his team mate, with the Monegasque finishing second and the Spaniard third behind Red Bull’s winner Max Verstappen in a race that set the grid for Sunday.

Sainz won last weekend’s British Grand Prix for his first F1 victory while Leclerc was fourth, triggering reports of internal unrest at the sport’s oldest and most successful team.

“I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today so probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today, no,” Leclerc told reporters.

Sainz and Leclerc were fighting right from the start, with the Spaniard still trying to get past after seven of 23 laps and his team mate closing the door.

The sprint race awards points to the top eight, with eight to the winner and one to the eighth placed driver.

“There were a few battles going on there at the beginning,” said Sainz.

“I think today there was very little to gain or to lose by the fight.

“We’re talking about one point more; one point less, because in the sprint there’s not many points going and also Max looked very in control the whole race up front, so it’s not like we lost out massively.”

Ferrari are 62 points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ standings while Leclerc is third overall and 44 points behind Verstappen. Sainz is in fourth spot 56 points off the pace.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said earlier that the aim was to maximise points for the team and whoever was fastest on track had priority.

“I’m pretty happy to see those two drivers fighting. I know that when there are team orders everybody’s blaming us because we should have a free fight and when you got the free fight then you should have team orders,” he said.

“So whatever you’re doing is always wrong. I remember 20 years ago here in Austria, I heard the booing from the grandstands because I was here.”

The 2002 Austrian Grand Prix became notorious for Ferrari ordering Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to let team mate Michael Schumacher win despite the German being outperformed. Team orders were banned from 2003 but are allowed now.