Charles Leclerc denies any disagreement over Ferrari team orders

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Charles Leclerc has denied briefly ignoring orders to let team-mate Carlos Sainz past at the Mexican Grand Prix.

After qualifying behind Sainz, Leclerc got ahead of him at the start as the Spaniard was forced to lift to avoid the incident between Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

He remained in front for a while but, with Sainz on fresher tyres and faster, was asked to let his Ferrari team-mate through with 16 laps remaining so that he could try and take P4 from Pierre Gasly.

The Monegasque did so, but not immediately, staying in front until around four laps after first being given the order on the team radio. He says that was only because he was passing backmarkers initially and was then told to wait though.

“It was already discussed before,” he said after the race.

“So there was just one lap where they asked me to let him by but I was overtaking, I think, a blue flag car in front of me, so I didn’t do it that lap. And then the next lap I was asked to not do it anymore and then we did do it a bit later on.

“But overall everything was clear and as soon as I’ve been asked, I did it.”

Sainz ultimately couldn’t catch Gasly and gave P5 back to Leclerc again before the end of the race as a result.

The 24-year-old is happy with the strategy the team adopted, feeling they did everything they could to try and take P4, and says the teamwork between the two drivers show there is a good team spirit in the Ferrari camp.

“On my side, we [stopped] very early to try and put some pressure on Pierre in front for him to stop and let Carlos go long, to create a tyre delta as well for the end of the race,” he added.

“Everything worked pretty well but once we went on the hard, on my side I struggled massively, Carlos a little bit less, but still we didn’t have the pace of Pierre in front, so we didn’t quite make it.

“But I think today it shows the good team spirit there is and yes, that’s good to see. We maximised everything today, I think.”

 

Team principal Mattia Binotto said similar things to his driver, stating there was never any issues with the team orders.

“We talked about that in the morning, it was a joint decision that one of the two drivers would have pitted early, that was Charles’ case, to force somehow Gasly to stop, the other driver would have gone long to have an advantage of fresh tyres at the end of the race,” he told Sky Italia.

“We decided that if someone recovered, we would have let him pass to see if we managed to catch up with the driver ahead, so Gasly, if that was not the case, we would have given back the position. We did so.

“The two accepted and shared that, we did that in the race without many discussions.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla 

 

 





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