Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monza, 2023

“On the limit” fight with team mate was “exactly what racing should be” – Leclerc

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc said his hard-fought battle with Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr in the Italian Grand Prix was “exactly what racing should be”.

The pair battled for multiple laps at the end of the race over the final podium place. Sainz eventually held Leclerc back to the chequered flag by just under two tenths of a second.

Despite coming close to contact with his team mate multiple times during their scrap, Leclerc said he had only positive things to say about his fight with his team mate.

“I honestly really enjoyed it,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans after the race.

“It’s probably the most enjoyable race of the season – inside the helmet, at least. I am sure that for the pit wall, they wouldn’t give the same answer and I’m sure some of the Tifosi maybe didn’t enjoy as much as we did with Carlos. But this is exactly what racing should be.

“In the past with Max [Verstappen], I’ve had similar fights. With Checo [Perez], today was on the limit too. And with Carlos it was on the limit too, whether it was defending or attacking and that made it really enjoyable inside the car.

“At the end we’ve maximised the team’s points, or the maximum result we could have done for the team. So it was really cool.”

Despite being told by race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros to take “no risks” during the battle in the closing laps, Leclerc locked up and ran off the track at points while aggressively seeking a way by Sainz right up to the chequered flag. Leclerc admitted neither he nor Sainz fully heeded the warning to take no risks.

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“We both did [take risks],” Sainz said. “Carlos was on the limits of the regulation on braking and I was on the limit of regulation attacking. So we both did, but at the end it all ended well. So it’s all fine.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said he told the pair they were allowed to race each other but not to take any unnecessary risks.

“On this I want to have the last call and I told them ‘no risks, you can race, but no risks’. Again, it’s relative, but I was much more compatible with this situation than to freeze something.”

Vasseur declined to say whether he felt Leclerc’s last-lap attempt to pass Sainz, in which he locked up and ran wide, was too great a risk.

“I won’t make any comment and I don’t want to have a polemic on this,” he said. “Because if I froze the situation I would have exactly the same question: ‘Why did you freeze, it’s not the spirit of the race?’ and so on.

“You can always say ‘but it was a bit too much’ or not but at the end the drivers finished and I’m more than happy with the outcome of this.”

Ferrari achieved their strongest result since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April by taking third and fourth behind the two Red Bulls. “We’ve had quite good pace all weekend here,” said Leclerc.

“The low-downforce package seems to be working more than the high-downforce package for us. So it was nice.”

However, Leclerc is not confident that Ferrari will be able to emulate their showing at the next round in Singapore.

“I think Singapore will be tricky for us,” he admitted.

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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11 comments on ““On the limit” fight with team mate was “exactly what racing should be” – Leclerc”

  1. This was a great battle as a fan to watch. The two Ferraris with worn out tires sliding around Monza for a podium. Leclerc was on the thin edge of disaster but controlled his car wonderfully and Sainz drove outstanding. We need more of this.

  2. That was fun. But I really think that Leclerc would have said something quite different had he been the one up ahead on the road.

    Good thing he did not crash both of them out of the race in that last lap.

  3. Great battle to watch. I found DRS about right here – aside from a couple of times, it put drivers alongside each other heading into the braking zone.

    1. Coventry Climax
      3rd September 2023, 19:57

      Don’t agree on DRS. The best (and only real) passes were without it. How I wish they’d scrap it for a couple of races, on circuits with different characteristics, if only to try.

      1. About trialling DRS-less races, I’d be all for it. Only downside would be the whinging from Croft, similar to Abu Dhabi 2019

        and that was only 17 laps…

  4. Sainz earned himself a fair amount of kudos this weekend.

  5. Coulthard was right to note on the commentary that the exit out of T1 was almost impossibly close. While it was nice to see them scrap for that Monza podium, that one moment working out was probably more down to luck than skill on either end. Still, it’s good fun to see.

  6. Coventry Climax
    3rd September 2023, 19:54

    I saw Sainz being taken apart by and talk to some team member, before the Rosberg interviews. Can’t be sure ofcourse, but I can imagine both drivers as well as the team had quite different matters to say before that.
    As a viewer, I liked it though. I think Sainz deserved it; he did most of the work, so to speak, as he qualified further up and drove and defended better than Leclerc attacked.

  7. It was fine but the attemt in the last lap was too much as he massively lock up that was almost both out…

  8. Funny how they are never allowed to race when it is Carlos who is behind

    1. astonished (@)
      4th September 2023, 9:23

      Not to mention how little did Lecrerc pressure, fight or race Checho during the race. He might not enjoy that or you might instead conclude that his only target now is to beat the team mate and for that better let him be eroded by other before preying on him latter on. Utter mediocrity is my most compassionate description of the guy

Comments are closed.