After Father’s War Against Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Finally Breaks Silence on Rumored Rift With Charles Leclerc

Published 10/02/2023, 11:45 AM EDT

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The past few race weekends have been some of the best for Ferrari in terms of results. Since the summer break, it’s like the Scuderia has switched into a new gear, driving toward that P2 in the Constructors’ Championship. But the past few race weekends have also been some of the most tension-filled ones in terms of intra-team dynamics. The reason? Like Ferrari, Carlos Sainz stepped into a different gear after the summer break, taking the fight to his teammate Charles Leclerc. With two drivers of their caliber, things were bound to boil over, and they did at the Italian GP.

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In the first half of the season, Leclerc was usually the leading Ferrari. More often than not, this came down to his qualifying advantage over Sainz. But with evenly matched drivers in races, it became necessary for Ferrari to implement team orders at times, which usually favored Leclerc. What conclusion did people make? Leclerc is the number one driver, and the favoritism is causing a rift between him and Sainz. Well, Sainz put all those rumors to rest.

Carlos Sainz busted every Ferrari favoritism myth

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In the first half, Leclerc was the leading Ferrari. After the summer break, though, Sainz improved the area he was lacking in—qualifying. When their roles reversed at the Italian GP—Leclerc chasing Sainz—Ferrari didn’t implement team orders like usual. Although it didn’t affect Sainz too much, his father wasn’t happy. He said, “It’s always my son who asks if he can attack. Carlos is always the one who has to understand why he can’t overtake if he’s behind. But when Leclerc is behind, the positions are not fixed.” 

This war on Ferrari effectively led to more speculations about the relations between Sainz and Leclerc. Before Sainz Sr. got involved, Leclerc had already set the record straight. He said, “I am quite active on social media, so I see what’s been said all around. It’s blown out of proportion with Carlos. We have a great relationship. Outside the car, we know how to work together, and we get on really well together.” If that wasn’t enough to put the rift rumors to rest, Sainz gave his side on things as well. He echoed Leclerc’s thoughts, saying, “There have been no favorites at Ferrari this year or last. Between Leclerc and me, there is a good relationship.” 

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We are not fighting to be first or second in the team. The priority is Ferrari. There is no number one or two. It is an invention of the press or the fans. There will always be races in which you are in front [of your teammate], and they help you, or [they are] behind, and you should help. No matter how much you try to look, Leclerc and I work perfectly together. We fight without problems, as you saw in Monza, and that’s the beauty of Ferrari,” Sainz concluded.

Despite War Against Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Sr. ‘Credited’ for Son’s Conduct at Charles Leclerc’s Backyard

With this rift out of the question now, the only thing the Ferrari boys are focusing on are the issues at hand—Mercedes and the SF-23.

Sainz and Leclerc are working toward Ferrari’s short-term and long-term goals

For the past few weeks, Ferrari and Mercedes have known they’re fighting for P2 in the championship. While Mercedes’ lead was quite significant a few weekends ago, the gap between the two teams has decreased considerably. Going into the Japanese GP, Leclerc was asked about Ferrari’s 2023 goals. He said, “The best we can do is second place, and we’ll do everything possible to achieve that. All three teams [Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren] are super close. So, it should be exciting until the end of the season.” With only a 20-point difference now, Leclerc and Sainz are geared up to get Ferrari that P2.

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Coming to its long-term goal, it’s to win races and championships again. Consistently. For that to happen, the first step is working on its 2024 challenger. As per Sainz, if it’s anything like the SF-23, things might not go in Ferrari’s favor. He said, “I am hoping that next year’s car has completely different characteristics than this one, and it’s a bit of a new start. This year’s car has given us a few headaches here and there. The car can be very quick on one lap, but in the race, our degradation still has its weaknesses that we need to address.” 

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Watch This Story: Is Carlos Sainz Looking to Move Away from Ferrari?

Setting aside the (nonexistent rift), Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have proved the fight is bigger than them. It’s about Ferrari and it’s aim to get back in front. Do you think they can achieve it?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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