Charles Leclerc says Ferrari can’t afford to let its drivers fight against each other in the Austrian Grand Prix after losing time battling Carlos Sainz in the Sprint.
Sainz got ahead of Leclerc at Turn 3 on the opening lap but lost out again one corner later, and a similar battle unfolded a few laps into the race when the pair swapped positions again. While the scrap was thrilling to watch, it allowed Max Verstappen to pull out a lead of nearly three seconds and, while Leclerc closed in late on, he was left with too much to do.
“I think it was pretty close between us three, to be honest, in terms of pace,” Leclerc said. “I was probably the one managing the most at the beginning and the one maybe pushing the most at the end. I just tried something different but it didn’t work out.
“[I lost] a little bit, but whether this was enough to get the win — I don’t think so, because Max was also managing…once he had a gap, so we’ll never know what would have happened, but today it is the way it is.
“I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tire management will be quite a bit more important compared to today. Probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today, no.”
While Sainz agrees that some time was lost, the Spaniard — who finished third behind Verstappen and Leclerc — doesn’t think the situation was as crucial given the way Verstappen managed his lead.
“I will see how the tires feel, how the pace is in front of me, and I’m sure we will work it out for tomorrow [with the team],” Sainz said.
“Mattia [Binotto] will decide…but it’s not like we lost a lot and it looked like Max wasn’t panicking too much at the front with our pace. We need to stay closer at the beginning of the stint and be closer at the end of the stint. I think this is what we need to try to do tomorrow.”