Sainz: Ferrari accepted I was right not to follow “10 car lengths” instruction

2022 British Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says Ferrari accepted his call for them to “stop inventing” instructions on the radio during the British Grand Prix.

Ferrari told him to drop 10 car lengths behind his race-leading team mate Charles Leclerc during the Safety Car period towards the end of Sunday’s race. Sainz refused, pointing out he was under pressure from Lewis Hamilton and other drivers behind him.

Sainz immediately passed Leclerc at the restart, who also fell behind Hamilton and Sergio Perez by the end of the race. Speaking in the FIA press conference yesterday, four days after claiming his first grand prix win, Sainz said his victory vindicated his decision not to follow the team’s instructions.

“Ferrari won, I won, so for sure it was not the wrong decision,” he said. “At that time, in the car, I did perfectly know what I had to do in order to not put Charles in a compromised position but also to give Ferrari a race win, that is what the team cares the most about.

“I think everything I did was sensible at the end. I didn’t put Charles under unnecessary risk or pressure while overtaking him, knowing that I was going to overtake him fairly easily on the soft. I pulled away, won the race for Ferrari and I think it was a good outcome in the end.”

Sainz said he “would have done it the same again” and believes Ferrari accept he did the right thing.

“I think the team perfectly understood my position. That’s why they didn’t call again for the 10 car lengths because they knew that what I had argued during the radio comment was totally valid also.”

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After the race, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed he had no grievance with Sainz’s resistance to leave a gap to his team mate.

Analysis: “Do something, please!”: The radio calls which show how Leclerc lost at Silverstone
“When we told him to give a rest to Charles after the Safety Car restart, what he said is not that he didn’t want to do it, he said ‘the guys behind me would be very aggressive, so I need to protect and somehow try to react, so leave it to me’,” Binotto explained soon after the race.

“So I think he understood properly what was the intention. I think not only he understood, but he’s very good in the way that he’s acting and I’m very happy with this.”

Despite Leclerc’s obvious disappointment at losing a race he had been on course to win, Sainz praised his team mate’s composure afterwards.

“It was a relatively short briefing because we had to leave to the airport and take the group picture. I think Charles had the anti-doping control, so we couldn’t share the briefing together.

“But like always he behaved like the gentleman like he is and the briefing went normally like the way it should go. The way it goes when I have a bad race is also a normal briefing and the way it goes when he has a bad race is a normal briefing.

“It’s one of the strong points that we have as team mates and as drivers and as a team spirit that we have in Ferrari, and these things are always under control.”

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2022 British Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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14 comments on “Sainz: Ferrari accepted I was right not to follow “10 car lengths” instruction”

  1. Still think it was the wrong decision; 10 car lengths or 1; your opponent behind you is going to try to overtake you. Has nothing to do with how far up front your teammate is.

    Selfish boy (i can understand HIS reasoning; but not ferrari’s)

  2. Carlos would have almost certainly got a drive through penalty if he had done as Ferrari asked. Even if he could judge 8-10 car lengths it would have gone over 10 once Leclerc decided to accelerate.

  3. I wonder if this episode is a minor version of the Pironi-Villeneuve’s one that sour the teammates relations.
    Kinda like SAI saying: “hey, you mess up LEC race, dont do the same with me.” and LEC realizing: “I cant count on SAI to strictly follow team orders, even when they are trying to control damages.”

    1. +, on point!

  4. I think this ‘clever’ strategy could’ve worked, but not sure if the drivers would be able to pull it off.
    The 10 length was only to cover the restart, but the remaining 10-or-so laps they would’ve had to let Sainz cover the back of Leclerc (open up to 0.9s in the curvy bits and then use the DRS train defence on the straights).
    I’m sceptical that Sainz (not the car) would have been able to do that for those final laps; he already lost it when defending against Verstappen earlier in the race.
    And it was not just defending against Hamilton who was on fire, but also against Perez who was in the faster car.

  5. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    8th July 2022, 12:15

    Sorry, but I think this was disrespectful of Sainz, and the one good idea ferrari had this race. Sainz had no way of pulling any further ahead of Hamilton than he would have had he stayed behind Sainz during the safety car. It is the lead driver that gets the choice when to leave. Although it is probably unlikely, Sainz possibly cost Leclerc a podium, and he’s just going on about how important it was that he wins, and doesn’t seem to factor in being a good team player. I don’t think him holding back before leclerc restarted would have made any difference to his result – but it possibly did cost the team a better result.

    Sainz obviously can be happy with his win, but the level of luck he had this weekend to get there was huge Probably the most lucky first win in years.

    He no doubt did well in qualifying, but I’d say he deserved P2 as Verstappen was on a faster lap and had to lift during the yellow flags.

    He then messed up his start and verstappen was instantly past him.

    He then got a free restart and managed to keep the lead, but then when under pressure, he drove off track.

    Verstappen then got by, and more luck came to sainz and Verstappen hit debris and got significantly effected by it.

    Leclerc did get damage early on, which he has some responsibility for, but despite that, he caught sainz very quickly, and given the time it took to catch up, the logical thing for Ferrari to do was to let Leclerc by before he spent too much time in dirty air and effecting his tyres. Ferrari instead chose the wrong time to make it fair for both drivers when they were under threat from Hamilton. This was such a waste of time, as leclerc demonstrated how quick he could pull away from sainz even after they left it too late. He likely will have been up the road from sainz by well over 10 seconds if they had let him go at the right time.

    Sainz, Perez and hamilton all benifitted from the safety car, but leclerc had the opportunity to as well. Ferrari being concerned about double stacking is noting like as bad as leaving a driver out on well used tyres… The safety car was so lucky for sainz, as he likely will have been beaten by hamilton if it didn’t occur.

    Ferrari’s decision to allow the restart to allow leclerc to pull away slightly was correct to do after they messed up by not pitting him. What I don’t understand is why Sainz was so concerned about Hamilton when he should have realised that Leclerc was significently more at threat of all 3 behind him passing – and he is the team leader after all (or should be). Sainz shouldn’t have argued with this, and the team shouldn’t have been as compliant with him not agreeing as they were.

    Sainz did some good on track racing in the last stint, but the win was incredibly lucky. I think i would even go as far as saying he probably won’t have been on the podium if Verstappen hadn’t had issues and there was no safety car because of Ocon.

    1. Your race summary is all ifs, buts and maybes. What if Max didn’t get debris, HE DID! What if Ferrari had swapped drivers sooner, THEY DIDN’T! What if there wasn’t a safety car, THERE WAS! What if Ferrari had double stacked, THEY DIDN’T!
      You could say that about almost any race.
      A lot of race wins are due to circumstances, and this one was no different. It’s about taking advantage of those circumstances, which is exactly what Sainz did.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        8th July 2022, 14:29

        The main difference I was trying to point out is that ferrari could have likely made it a better result for their team, if Sainz had listened and they hadn’t been so compliant with him not wanting to go along.

    2. Good summary.

  6. When I heard the “10 cars” instruction I though that I heard it wrong. Even if their second driver is NOT under sheer pressure -as Sainz was under Hamilton-, the instruction makes no sense, and seems designed to make very clear to one of the drivers that the pitwall wants the other car to be the winner.
    I never, ever, heard a F1 team giving one of his drivers such instruction before a SC. Maybe it happened before, but I am not aware of it, and I could be wrong.
    It was shocking. Because Sainz had much better rubber on and would overtake Leclerc anyway, or Hamilton would overtake both Ferraris. It was gratuitous and useless.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      8th July 2022, 13:59

      I think you are missing an obvious point i made in my earlier post. Sainz would have passed leclerc anyway, but at a later stage. It would have increased the chance of the team having a 1 – 3 rather than a 1 – 4. Ferrari were only asking Sainz to do this as they knew that leclerc would benifit from it, even though they also knew that Sainz would pass anyway. It would just have a chance of delaying things, which will have helped Ferrari IMO.

      But they made the mistake in the first place by not pitting leclerc.

  7. Of course he would say that.

  8. Sainz was gifted this win by his team.
    If Redbull are calling strategy Charles Leclerc wins this race all day long.
    Behind the scenes there will be a shift in Ferrari’s mentality and Leclerc will be given priority in 50/50 situations going forward.
    Sainz should have complied with the request and his decision not to will backfire on him going forward this season.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    8th July 2022, 16:06

    Silly request, and pointless. If there was one racing lap to go, dropping 10 car lengths at the restart would probably have protected Leclerc, but with so many left Sainz – or whoever Sainz lost a position to by focusing on trying to be a roadblock – would have caught and passed Leclerc anyway.

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