Leclerc expects to clear the air with Sainz after Sprint clash

Charles Leclerc says Carlos Sainz crossed the line in how hard he was fighting during the Sprint at the Chinese Grand Prix but expects to be able to clear the air with his teammate ahead of Sunday’s race.

Sainz sustained damage in contact with Fernando Alonso late in the Sprint, an incident that saw Leclerc able to attack his teammate into the penultimate corner later in the same lap. With Leclerc on the outside of the hairpin, Sainz ran deep and made contact with the other Ferrari, forcing Leclerc wide in a move that he believes was too aggressive between teammates.

“I think so (Sainz crossed the line),” Leclerc said. “But to be honest, I have crossed the line also myself in the past, and when this happens, we normally have a discussion, we clear the air, which we went through that in the past already and it went really well. So I have no worries that it will be the case also this weekend, but today he went a bit over the limit.

“A contact between us two, being in a different race situation because I had saved quite a bit the tires… I had good pace at the end, it was a bit of a shame we lost that gap to [Sergio] Perez and couldn’t go and take him. But it’s like this, at the end, P4, it could have been P3, one point, you can always do better.”

Sainz says he will apologize if he went too far in his defensive move against Leclerc but pointed to the earlier incident with Alonso as the catalyst for his car being compromised.

“I think I did a good start, I was pushing Max [Verstappen] hard at the beginning because I knew if I was passing him, I had a strong chance of winning the race,” Sainz said. “That probably killed my tires a bit and I was managing for the rest of the race. Until I got Fernando, and then behind Fernando, I did a really good move around the outside of Turn 7.

“Then he decided to be a bit all or nothing into me into Turn 9, which cost us both the race. I picked up damage and a lot of dirt in my tire from that optimistic move. And then yeah, from there on, I was sliding around with the damage on my car and dirt on my tires.

“I was doing everything I could to defend and sliding maybe, had a bit of a moment there with Charles. I apologize if I did something over the limit, but we were all racing really hard today, and I was doing my best to keep it under control out there.”

Leclerc and Sainz went on to qualify in sixth and seventh respectively for the grand prix on Sunday, although Sainz crashed to bring out red flags in Q2 before continuing, and his result is under protest from Aston Martin.

Story originally appeared on Racer