Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2022

Ferrari explain why they denied Leclerc his request to be let past Sainz

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Over the final laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc repeatedly urged his Ferrari team to swap the running order of their cars.

Leclerc was pursuing third-placed team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr at the time and badly wanted the extra three points that came with that position to aid him in his fight for second place in the championship with Sergio Perez.

However to Leclerc’s disappointment the team made no move to swap their cars around. Sainz wasn’t even aware of what his team mate was asking for.

“I don’t normally ask these type of things, but obviously we had this discussion prior to the race,” said Leclerc afterwards. “So that’s why I asked about it.

“But for some reason we changed our mind on that. I don’t know yet the reason and hopefully we will be quick enough in Abu Dhabi to get that second place. I just hope we will be lacking that second place for three points or something like that.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto explained why the team didn’t swap their cars around. He said the team was being investigated for a potential incident involving Sainz and they did not want to risk losing him time in case he was penalised.

The investigation concerned Yuki Tsunoda, who was the only one of the three lapped drivers who was not allowed to rejoin the lead lap during the last Safety Car period, said Binotto. The FIA later confirmed an oversight meant Tsunoda was not given the instruction to un-lap himself.

The presence of rivals Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen close behind their cars also made Ferrari reluctant to issue team orders, said Binotto.

“Swapping the two cars on the last straight was certainly tricky because Charles had got Fernando and Max just behind,” he explained. “So certainly it could have been tricky and somehow dangerous.

“But more than that, we knew that we were under investigation for what happened behind Safety Car with Tsunoda. We were cleared off by race control at the time so we were quite, let me say, comfortable, but without having a conclusion on that matter it would have been risky.

“A five-second penalty, for example, would mean that Carlos would have been losing more than one position. So for the constructors championship it was certainly better to stick with the positions and the gaps on track.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    26 comments on “Ferrari explain why they denied Leclerc his request to be let past Sainz”

    1. The bias towards Sainz is obvious within the team and this is not new at least for me the casual fan. Even if Carlos was penalized, it would have not changed the outcome of the WCC. If things continue like this in 2023, Leclerc might lose faith in the team. A short term solution is to ask for a new race engineer with strong communication skills which is legitimate. Raikkonen asked a similar request in 2015 and was satisfied when Ferrari recruited Dave Greenwood.

      Another thing is to ask the new race engineer to only take the inputs, possible scenarios, calculations…from the strategy team and decide with Leclerc what to do. No more reliance on Rueda and the rest of the strategy team he oversees. Leclerc must go directly complain to Elkann and bypass Binotto with regard to his request. It is bad in a professional environment to bypass your boss but sometimes it can be the last measure when your boss is biased.

      1. @tifoso1989 Wasn’t Jock Clear Raikkonen’s race engineer? Before Xavi Marcos replaced him towards the end of 2018?

        Also Elkann might have too much on his plate to be involved in the goings-on in F1. What about their CEO? Forgot his name.

        1. @wsrgo
          Jock Clear used to be Hamilton’s senior performance engineer though he was recruited in Ferrari to replace Pat Fry as an engineering director. Ferrari benefited from his wide experience and he also oversaw the development of all their drivers including the FDA drivers but never directly engineered a driver.

          Raikkonen was engineered by Antonio Spagnolo in 2014 but he wasn’t satisfied and asked for a replacement. He first wanted his former Mclaren and Lotus engineer Mark Slade to join him but the latter opted against relocating to Italy. Ferrari recruited Dave Greenwood from the troubled Marussia and he engineered Raikkonen till he left Ferrari ahead of the 2018 season. Carlo Santi replaced Greenwood for the 2018 season and he was the one alongside Raikkonen in the podium of 2018 United States GP.

          Unlike what most people think and despite having lots of commitments Elkann is directly involved in the running of the F1 team. Binotto has to validate everything with him. He doesn’t interfere with the engineers doing their jobs but he follows closely à la Marchionne (RIP) everything happening within the team.

          Benedetto Vigna, Ferrari CEO, who is a brilliant engineer himself that during his career has registered more than a 100 patent is more focused to drive the transformation of Ferrari towards electrification. The F1 team reports directly to Elkann.

          1. @tifoso1989 Ahh thanks. Guess I misremembered things.

      2. someone or something
        14th November 2022, 9:23


        The bias towards Sainz is obvious within the team and this is not new at least for me the casual fan.

        What? No.

        Even if Carlos was penalized, it would have not changed the outcome of the WCC.

        Ferrari are now 19 points ahead of Mercedes, having lost 17 points to them in yesterday’s race. => Had Sainz somehow lost two more positions after a place swap (Alonso and Verstappen finished within 6 seconds of Sainz, so with a possible 5-second penalty, losing a second due to the swap would’ve been enough), Mercedes would now be a situation where they could snatch 2nd in the Constructors’ by repeating their result in Abu Dhabi, no matter what Ferrari do.

        1. If Ferrari cannot cleanly swap positions on a race track then there is no point at all for them to go racing. Sainz could have waited till the last moment before the start finish line and give Leclerc the position.

          Mercedes were in a much worse situation in Hungary 2017 when Hamilton gave the position back to Bottas in the last corner despite the latter having the Red Bull of Max Verstappen breathing down his neck with 0.5s gap. That was indeed a brilliant piece of driving by Hamilton but Ferrari yesterday were in a much better position.

          Ferrari can say whatever they want to say but I don’t buy that buy their explanations. All the decisions seems to go in favour of the slower unreliable driver. When I’ll see a single situation where things are in favour of Leclerc, I’ll change my mind. Besides, lots of rumours coming from inside Ferrari regarding the role that Carlos Sainz sr is playing inside the garage and the influence he has on the Spanish engineers.

          1. someone or something
            14th November 2022, 14:03

            Sounds to me like you really (really, really) want to believe something’s fishy. But your explanation boils down to “Ferrari intentionally sabotage Leclerc, because Sainz is so good at scheming behind the scenes”. Which, to be blunt, is a rubbish explanation for anything more important than playground squabbles.

            As for the “unable to cleanly swap positions” argument, it simply does not apply to this situation. Alonso was 5.5 seconds away, so there was no concern about losing a place on the track. The issue was that in order to swap places, the trailing driver (Leclerc) cannot simply magically jump ahead without costing the leading driver time. The leading driver has to slow down for that, and that’s when the gap to Alonso (5.5) and Verstappen (6.0) suddenly becomes a problem with implications for the WCC, in light of a possible time penalty.
            At the end of the day, Ferrari showed a clear preference for securing 2nd in the WCC (the one that is actually worth money) over 2nd place in the WDC (which has no tangible value).

            You could argue they have their priorities wrong, of course. But alleging it’s all a sinister conspiracy to Leclerc’s detriment is plain childish.

          2. I think you are mistaken. I haven’t missed a race since 2010. Have seen all kind of treatments towards different drivers in teams, but cannot see which of their current driver gets even the smallest preference in treatment. Definetly don’t see Ferrari preferring Sainz over Leclerc or mistreating Leclerc. They mess up more than the worst teams on the grid when it comes to pitstops, strategy or communication, but that is not driver specific either. They just have sub-par people on the pitwall.

            They didn’t switch places because for that to happen, Sainz would’ve had to slow down about 5 seconds. After which Alonso and Verstappen would have been only second or 2 behind him. And as Sainz was under investigation the team feared he could be given a 5 second time penalty, which would’ve dropped him behind Alonso and Verstappen and lost the team valuable constructor championship points. That was absolutely a valid concern and not a risk worth taking. No conspiracy there.

            1. it is clear that Binotto Ferrari prefers Sainz over Leclerc. It was already shown in Monaco *******

      3. Sainz jnr like his father is much more purposeful with his words. Sainz has a great team behind him, the Sainz family is friends with the Agnelli’s. Sainz is a problem for ferrari because he is not quick enough and he is only looking at beating Leclerc, a bit of an Ocon, he’d rather see Leclerc lose than be 2nd.
        Leclerc on the other hand is left to try hard to compensate for the support he is not given. Leclerc has to stand up for himself more, he can’t have the same race engineer next season and he can’t have Sainz jnr changing his strategic calls affect his race. He needs to be aware that he cannot rely on strategies that involve his team mate. Leclerc also has to learn to challenge the race strategists which are spanish likewise his engineer.
        Ferrari is the only team discussing race strategies live during the race. The team cannot lose track of their plans, and end up disclosing their strategy to the rest of the grid, their communications skills need improving.

    2. Small potatoes i would say. Someday with a fast car and a good team behind him Leclerc will be a worthy WDC. For Sainz to achieve so it will take a rocketship of a car, a clockwork team and a slow and benign team-mate. The dynamic between thos 2 is reminiscent of Hamilton/Button. Lets just hope that Ferrari comes good next year…

    3. Makes sense to me. Who remember 2nd in WDC few years later? There is money in WCC, but nothing except glory in WDC and limited to the winner. As commented by Sky, giving up on a podium position is also a tough ask, in a way the point swing is better than 7th, but demoting a driver from a podium place for no fault of his own is tough. In a way easier to swap 2 and 3 than 3 and 4. As we see with RedBull, these favors should be treated carefully as it can damage the team spirit and at the end of the day, both drivers drive for the team.

      I understand that Leclerc asked, especially if discussed before the race, but also that Ferrari rejected it.
      Whether I agree with Ferrari treatment of both drivers over the year is a different matter.

      Leclerc will eventually forget this fight for second when he’ll be fighting for the title some day.

      1. I can remember who got 2nd every year back to the vettel era, I don’t know those well cause I wasn’t watching. I’m gonna say if I was watching during a season I remember all of them, also goes for 3rd.

        Also, curiously, sainz was interviewed and said he would’ve given up the podium for leclerc if asked, sounds believable, but I also think ferrari’s reason to not ask him is reasonable.

    4. They could not let Leclerc past, as it would have been inconsistent with this entire year of bad decisions! They seem to keep overthinking every decision until they arrive at the wrong one!

    5. Ferrari got this one right. Worth pointing out that Leclerc was perfectly understanding when talking about it in interviews after the race.

    6. Not to mention, Sainz was already around four seconds ahead, but I don’t quite get the investigation reference regarding Tsunoda.

      1. Sainz lapped Tsunoda under safety car conditions. Normally this would give him a penalty. Sainz ran side by side with Tsunoda round several corners waiting for an instruction from the team to pass Tsunoda or to hurry Tsunoda up to pass Perez etc.

        In the end Sainz went past Tsunoda but Bottas etc did not until they crossed the line.

        Sainz was probably lucky no one appealed. Ferrari obviously would not mention thus publically (i.e. over the radio) until the deadline for appeals passed.

    7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th November 2022, 13:41

      Well, for me the biggest issue is the reason that Leclerc would be asking to swap him. They had even discussed it before the race.

      This means that both Ferrari and Leclerc are not sure they can win P2 at Abu Dhabi which makes sense given Red Bull’s performance advantage.

      The larger issue is Leclerc’s belief that he can win the championship with the Scuderia. Every year, it seems to inch a bit further away as opposed to coming closer. Even if the car was the fastest car, it’s hard to imagine that Ferrari will win the WDC except through sheer luck and mistakes committed by their opposition. Once Leclerc is a WDC contender, he’ll be on Verstappen’s target list and he will be pushing Charles off the track on every corner so there’s also that to deal with.

      This is his 4th season with the Scuderia and by far Charles’ best season with Ferrari – his prior best was P4 followed by P8 and P7. I’m sure he wants P2.

      While he has an amazing number of pole positions which means he is quick, he only has 5 wins and 23 podiums. I’m sure he expected more when he joined Ferrari.

      1. But… where to go?! Nowhere to go in the next few years if you ask me. RBR and Mercedes seem to have their main driver(s) locked for years to come, also they might not be interested in a good enough driver that might upset VER and RUS. Alpine, McLaren and Aston Martin might be the option, but very risky, most chances he might end up worse, a la Alonso or Vettel after leaving Ferrari, Ricciardo after leaving RBR etc. Hope he gets 1 WDC, he’s talented enough to be WDC at least 1 time.

        1. Yes, there’s nowhere to go, it seems absolutely hopeless if you want to go for a title to be on any but the top 3 teams, and imo even ferrari is very questionable, I feel red bull and merc consistantly proved to operate at a higher level, ferrari only got a lot of titles historically cause they didn’t have this level of competition.

          1. Leclerc could perhaps engineer a path into Red Bull… All it would take would to somehow *just* beat Perez to 2nd by 1 or 2 points, thereby antagonising Perez’s relationship with Verstappen, leading to its total breakdown, Perez leaving, and Leclerc taking his place.

            It’s plausible. Not sure it’d be desirable to ‘team’ up with Verstappen though.

    8. I honestly don’t know why coming 2nd in the WDC is such a big thing all of a sudden. I commented a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t realised Webber had never managed to get runner up in the championship when Seb was doing things like winning 9 races on the bounce.

      I think – unless the last race is a decider (which this obviously isn’t) who came second is quickly forgotten. Shout out any year from 1950 onwards I’ll tell you the champion. Ask me to name the runner up that year, I’d struggle with a lot, if not most of them.

      1. Yes, from the 1950s it gets hard to remember the 2nd, if I didn’t watch a season I don’t remember so well.

      2. Impressively underwhelming that webber never got 2nd and gives more sense to the team wanting perez to get 2nd in the championship.

    9. Leclerc was pursuing third-placed team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr at the time and badly wanted the extra three points that came with that position to aid him in his fight for second place in the championship with Sergio Perez.

      As Martin Burndle reminded the people listening, third place is also a Podium Place, and Charles was basically asking Carlos to forego the honours associated with finishing third, and to give them to himself. Ferrari quite rightly said ‘No’ to his request.

      1. Exactly. 99% chances SAI would have declined his team’s request. Even podiums are quite a rarity for him, so no chance to throw away a podium from his very modest palmares, and that obviously is not improving at a rate to his liking.

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