WATCH: Ferrari Team Orders Leave Sainz Unhappy After Leclerc’s Complaints in Portimao

Published 05/02/2021, 12:41 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 14, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc arrive for testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Team orders can leave an ugly taste in the mouth of F1 drivers. Just in the last round in Imola, Daniel Ricciardo had to swallow his pride when McLaren asked him to move over for the quicker Lando Norris. And now Ferrari exercised it this time around with Carlos Sainz being the unfortunate victim of it.

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Around lap 45 of the Portuguese GP when Sainz was running in 7th place ahead of Charles Leclerc, the 8th-placed Monegasque driver complained over his team order over Sainz’s relative lack of pace.

“It is very difficult to follow,” Leclerc told his race engineer.

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Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

In reply, his race engineer asked him to go faster and overtake the slower Ferrari of Sainz. First, Leclerc was confused if Sainz was intentionally going slow to preserve his tires. And then told his race engineer that he couldn’t lap quicker – “His car is struggling or saving? I can’t go quite a lot quicker, guys.”

Word went over the Ferrari pit wall and the think-tank decided to swap their cars. Leclerc was told by his race engineer that his teammate would let him through on Turn 5. They asked Sainz to follow the protocol, but the Spaniard wasn’t best pleased.

“But why? I am going through the graining phase now,” Sainz retaliated before ultimately letting Leclerc by on Turn 5.

Did Ferrari spoil Carlos Sainz’s race?

Qualifying couldn’t have gone any better for the former McLaren driver. He was the fifth-fastest driver on Saturday just behind the pairings of title rivals, Mercedes and Red Bull. And when the lights went out, he overtook Sergio Perez to take the fourth position before Kimi Raikkonen went off.

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After the Safety car period, Perez re-took his place, but Sainz was still showing decent pace on his first stint. But it was his second stint on the unfavorable Medium tires which spoiled his race. All the drivers showing good lap times were running on Hard compounds.

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 13, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. arrives ahead of testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Ferrari decided to put the Hard Pirelli tires on his teammate, Charles Leclerc itself. Which begs the question – Why did they put the Mediums on Sainz? What was their logic behind it? They have some explaining to do here; their strategic errors cost Sainz as he ultimately finished out of the points in Portimao.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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