Leclerc sends clear message to Ferrari as he hunts Verstappen
Charles Leclerc is keen to avoid another scrap with Carlos Sainz in the Austrian Grand Prix as Ferrari attempt to get on terms with Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc has stressed that Ferrari “cannot afford” to let their two cars fight if they are to take on Red Bull in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz went wheel-to-wheel on several occasions during Saturday’s Sprint race, helping Red Bull rival Max Verstappen pull clear at the front.
After settling the inter-team battle, Leclerc was able to cut the gap to Verstappen in the closing laps, but not enough to overhaul him for the win.
Leclerc: It’s up to Binotto to decide on Ferrari’s approach
With tyre degradation in mind across Sunday’s 71-lap encounter, Leclerc warned that Ferrari could throw away a chance at victory by allowing a race between himself and Sainz.
“I think it is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today, so probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today,” Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365.com, after the Sprint race.
As for whether any team orders will be imposed, Leclerc put the ball in team boss Mattia Binotto’s court.
He added: “I don’t know for the rules of engagement. We are not the ones to decide – it will be more Mattia.”
Sainz, meanwhile, was keen to play down the impact of Ferrari’s Sprint scrap and set out a clear plan for the main event.
“Mattia will decide on the team [orders], but it’s not like we lost a lot, and it didn’t look like Max was panicking too much up front with our pace,” he said.
“We need to make sure we stay closer at the beginning of the stint and we are closer at the end of the stint. I think this is what we need to try and do.”
Ferrari moved a point closer to Red Bull with their Sprint race haul, with the difference in the standings now 62 points.