Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2022

Leclerc: “We can’t afford to do tomorrow what we did today”

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says the fight between him and his team mate in the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race compromised his attempts to fight for the lead.

The two Ferrari drivers exchanged positions twice on the opening lap, Leclerc regaining second place behind Max Verstappen. Sainz then attacked Leclerc further into the race, and the pair dropped further behind the Red Bull driver.

Leclerc suggested the reason Sainz was able to attack him in the early laps was because he was managing his tyres more in order to be able to catch Verstappen later in the race.

“I think it was pretty close between us three, to be honest, in terms of pace,” he said in the FIA press conference after the sprint race. “I was probably the one managing the most at the beginning and the one pushing the most at the end. So I just tried something different but it didn’t work out.”

Leclerc admitted he lost “a little bit” of time to Verstappen while battling with his team mate.

“Whether this was enough to get the win, I don’t think so. Because Max was also managing then once he had a gap. We’ll never know what could have happened, but today is the way it is.”

The trio will start tomorrow’s grand prix in the same order they began the sprint race. Leclerc said Ferrari must avoid a repeat of the scenario which cost them time today.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today,” he said. “So probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today, no.”

It will be up to team principal Mattia Binotto to determine how hard they can fight each other, he added. “For the rules of engagement, obviously we are not the one to decide,” he said. “It will be more Mattia.”

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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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41 comments on “Leclerc: “We can’t afford to do tomorrow what we did today””

  1. Fragile Charles can’t be bothered to drive quicker than his teammate.

    1. Yeah.. He was slower than his teammate. Just like every race this weekend :/

  2. What bs you are spewing he held the fastest lap and was clearly th e quickest car out there. Sainz needs to be a team player

    1. Honestly, I can’t understand this romantic relationship between Binotto and Sainz.

      Sainz is Barichello without the right contract clauses.

  3. Sainz is so close in the championship, he’s not going to move over easily.

  4. Teamorders even before lap one are not a nice thing to have, but when you’re fighting a one driver only Team you must at least have some clear rules of engagement.
    Perez would never have been allowed to dive-bomb Verstappen…

  5. This is just Ferrari shooting themselves in the foot again. They have this rare chance to have an impact on the championship and they waste the opportunity with these team squables.

    Today we saw the Haas driving as a team to prevent Hamilton nicking points off both of them. They used the DRS train to their advantage to keep Hamilton behind them for most of the race. The Ferrari could have done something similar, to sling shot themselves up to Verstappen. Instead they wasted their tires and track position squabling.

    I bet even now they can’t see this missed opportunity.

  6. It’s time for Ferrari to get behind Charles if they have any chance to overhaul Verstappen and Red Bull in this year’s championship. The dithering and indecisiveness have to stop, its making Red Bull’s life much easier.

    1. Absolutely. I don’t really believe in team orders but the more the Ferrari drivers fight each other, the more the gap to Max is opening.

      It may not become necessary but Mattia needs to lay down some rules of engagement. I think they need to back Charles if they want to win anything.

  7. It’s time for Ferrari to get behind Charles if they have any chance to overhaul Verstappen and Red Bull in this year’s championship. The dithering and indecisiveness have to stop, its making Red Bull’s life much easier. It’s clear Leclerc is the only man in the team capable of taking the fight to Verstappen over the course of a season. Get behind your lead driver Ferrari!

  8. Ferrari need to get a grip of the situation with Sainz and throw their weight behind Leclerc.
    Otherwise they can’t compete with RBR who are ruthlessly focused on their no.1 driver.

  9. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    9th July 2022, 18:41

    I don’t see anything wrong whith what happened today. They were racing, very cautiously and cleanly, as team mates should.
    Neither was fast enough to endanger Verstappen so there was no reason not to let them race.
    Ferrari has done stupid things which ruined Leclerc’s races this season, but not today.

    1. I think people (I was surprised too) aren’t happy to see sainz attacking leclerc so early on and making him lose 1 second or so in the battle, when he’d have needed all speed he could to go chase verstappen, now I don’t think a sprint win was in the cards in this case, but if you want to do like verstappen did at imola and get a last lap pass, this kind of battle ruins it.

  10. Binotto doesn’t have the balls to tell Sainz that he’s Leclerc’s wingman, and until he does Ferrari will be doomed in both championships.

  11. I mean, he probably lost much more time fighting as hard as he did than he would have if he’d allowed a quicker Sainz an easier overtake in the early laps, then maybe come back at him later if what he said about saving tyres was true.

    Anyway, the knives seem to be out for Sainz on the internet recently – I don’t think he did anything wrong, good battling and respectful racing.

    1. Good point @tflb

    2. @tflb Leclerc ran Sainz out of room as he tried to pass on the outside. It was only Sainz abandoning the attempt that prevented a collision or him going off. Against Max, I’m sure Ferrari would be applauding him. Seemed too much against his own team mate though when it’s only the sprint race where their number one task was surely both of them finishing in the top 3 where they started.

      1. Yeah, Leclerc was defending as agressively as the fighting at Silverstone last week, but this time against his teammate @david-br

  12. I really don’t see the issue. It’s a race. Why shouldn’t Sainz try to pass Leclerc? There was no way Verstappen was losing the mini-me race. If they don’t crash each other out, it’s basically a question of which order the Ferraris arrive in. Leclerc is a better driver but not massively so. It’s not a Ham – Bottas or Verstappen – Perez difference.

    1. If Ferrari wants to win one or both championships they need to pick a lead driver and support only him. The way Binotto is managing his drivers he’s throwing Ferrari’s championship chances away.

      1. @greenflag Leclerc is 44 points behind Max. Sainz is only 12 behind Leclerc. They’re surely too close to each other to decide on one yet. I get that Leclerc must be unhappy with his luck and with a lot of poor Ferrari decisions. But the team don’t seem to be thinking about things the same way. So he should focus on his own performances and trying to beat Max. Eventually the luck will run his way. Fueling animosity with Sainz won’t help his cause.

      2. @greenflag I hate to prove prophetic but… :)
        Leclerc got the job done today and indeed got the good luck, Sainz the bad. I mean, I really do hope the luck stays with him now, though, otherwise Max will win by default rather than us seeing a championship battle down to the wire. Presuming Leclerc/Ferrari can catch up. We’ve seen before, though, that reliability can send the team into a title-ending tail spin.

    2. Mmmm, hamilton-bottas had a significant difference, but with perez having improved this year, I’m not sure you can claim there’s more difference between them than the ferrari pair.

    3. I mean in general ofc, perez’s pace in this sprint race (didn’t even try to get close to russell) and in quali was really bad, even without the penalty he was nowhere near the fight for “pole”.

    4. I agree with you @david-br As long as there is no crash, no need for forced intervention. Red Bull is the faster car anyways.

      1. Not sure about that. I feel Ferrari has the best car this year but shoot themselves in the foot over and over. And Max distracts just that tiny bit more from the RB so he can keep up with Leclerc. The real challenge for Ferrari is that they have somehow created a situation wherein Sainz feels he is not a nr 2 driver.

  13. Charles has to understand that Carlos wants Verstappen to win this season as easily as possible.

    He does not want to be a wingman and being one now is half a step to be it again next year, so if he can turn Leclerc as miserable as possible, he’s doing it. He’s not concerned about Ferrari winning, his concern is his status wiithin the team.

    1. If so that’s very devious and unusual, if you compare for example to bottas at merc.

      1. Leclerc is demolishing Sainz performance-wise.

        The only reason the team isn’t completely invested in him is their own mistakes and incompetence.

        But he is no Hamilton or verstappen, a clear 1 no matter what, he has to show the team he is the right pick.

  14. Seen a lot of Hamilton/Leclerc-Rosberg/Sainz team dynamic comparisons in which people tell Ferrari should allow Sainz to battle Leclerc or else Sainz will be a Bottas instead of a Rosberg.

    Few issues with that.

    Hamilton and Rosberg in 14-16 could get away with battling cause their car was so quick they could get in each others way and still build a gap. Ferrari are racing an equal or faster car so it’s a Williams 1986 or Mclaren 2007 scenario where the driver of a different team profits of their in team sqaubling.

    Again they seem afraid to make the hard and unpopulair decision of team orders. Red Bull meanwhile would’ve told Perez to stop attacking Verstappen or get replaced by Gasly and Mercedes in years past would just say “Valterri, it’s James”.

    Someone in the strategy team needs to slam their fist down now about driver priority or else we’ll get another Brazil 2019 soon cause neither Leclerc or Sainz will be backing down when it comes to that.

  15. It’s well past time for Charles to realise that Formula 1 is a Motor Racing series, not a driving competition. The only important championship is the Constructors. Liberty needs to get on board and so do the press. Making heroes out of drivers is not what motor racing is for.

    1. Most important championship only introduced after 8 years into F1’s existence. Nobody cares about the constructors.

      Prost won in 1986 yet all people talk about is Mansell’s puncture, Piquet missing out on the title and not Williams winning the WCC.
      Ferrari won 3 constructors between 1979 and 2000 yet all people could talk about was the end of the 21 year wait thanks to Schumacher.
      Mclaren love their 08 championship with Lewis while sweeping under the rug that their last constructors is not even from this century.
      Nobody talks about Mercedes winning 8 WCC straight as much as Lewis missing out on #8.

      Vettel named all driver champions last year in perfect order backwards but I doubt he can do the same with constructors.

    2. The only important championship is the Constructors.

      No. That’s just blatantly wrong. Sure, it is what decides the prize money the teams get. But one only has to look at who were happy and who were not at the end of AD 2021 to figure out which one is the championship drivers and even teams REALLY want to win.

      1. True, I haven’t seen mercedes celebrate the constructor basically AT ALL, despite that kind of being the confirmation they brought the best car for 8 years straight (2014-2021).

    3. No one really cares about the WCC. Call us weird, but we still like the ultimate prize to be given to an individual athlete, instead of to a bunch of people who build a machine and run a team.

  16. This situation is very reminiscent to 1982 and what Gilles Villeneuve had to deal with.
    At this rate, unless Ferrari sorts things out, there will be a situation where there will be a coming together and both cars will be out. Just a question of when.

  17. Its getting old hearing Leclerc complain about Sainz. The team should just tell him, no, you’re racing till the championship is over for one.

  18. LEC had a bad start and then made it worse by fighting SAI at the start. If his plan was to conserve tyres early and then take the fight to VER late in the sprint then it would have been to his advantage to let SAI chase VER early so their tyres were overworked. I think Ferrari let’s the 2 drivers fight it out as the cars are not consistent and they can’t afford to hold one back or they wouldn’t win any races this year.

    1. only thing this would achieve would be him fighting for 2nd by the end of the race, not the beginning.

      the race is too short.

    2. Now that you say it, yeah, that might have worked @jimfromus. To me it was clear that Sainz was faster off the start, Leclerc could have let him just go (instead of defending VERY agressively) and get back at both of them later.

      But it seems Leclerc is having a bit of a gripe with Sainz (one could understand it from his point of view after the last few races) and fought as agressively as if it was fighting Hamilton or Max.

  19. Yeah!!!!! Sainz is a racing car driver in F1 and what? He wants to win a race?

    What are these guys talking about?
    Maybe Leclerc will be one day a world champion, but he VERY quickly came through as a Whiner Champ material.
    During the Silverstone GP, when Sainz was ahead of Leclerc the commentators on the TV channel I was following said: “Ok, let’s see how long until we hear from Leclerc on the radio asking for team orders”. And right before the end of the lap BINGO, there he was, asking the pitwall to order Sainz to move away, when in fact he was unable to pass even with DRS.
    It’s very difficult for me to keep any sort of respect for drivers like that, sorry.

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