Charles Leclerc demands Sainz talks after Ferrari drivers Chinese GP Sprint clash

The Ferrari pair were involved in a heated clash on the track in Shanghai and Leclerc was clear about who was to blame.

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Charles Leclerc accused his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz of going “over the limit” and said the pair would sit down to clear the air, following their latest on-track battle during the F1 Sprint Race at the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

The Monegasque clinched fourth in the race – after starting seventh on the grid – eventually passing Sainz late on in the 19-lap sprint race after an epic battle between the Scuderia pair. It came after Sainz appeared to force his team-mate off the track at the hairpin, before Leclerc recovered to get past him in the last remaining laps to claim P4.

Leclerc fumed on the team radio, claiming Sainz had been more aggressive in defending against him than Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso. And he laid the blame at Sainz’s feet for being passed by Perez after the Red Bull driver took third while they were squabbling for position.

When asked if Sainz had gone over the limit, Leclerc told Sky Sports F1: “I think so. To be honest I have crossed over the line myself in the past and when that happened, we had a discussion to clear the air, we went through that in the past already and it went really well. I have no worries that is also going to be the case also this weekend but today, we went a bit over the limit.

“The contact between us two gave me a different race situation because I had quite a bit of pace with the tyres, had a good pace at the end. It’s a bit of a shame we lost that gap to Perez and couldn’t go chase him.

“It’s like this at the end [of the day], P4 could have been P3, one point… you can always do better but we will focus on having a good qualifying.”

Sainz apologises for Leclerc fight

Sainz admitted he was at fault for their collision and sent a message of apology to Leclerc, explaining that damage sustained from his battle with Alonso meant he was struggling for grip.

“I did a good start, I was pushing Max [Verstappen] hard at the beginning and if I passed him I had a strong chance of winning the race,” Sainz said.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull fended off Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the Sprint ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“But I was managing my tyres for the rest of the race and then with Fernando, I did a really good move on the outside of Turn 7.

“From then on, he decided to do a bit of an all-or-nothing with me, into Turn 9, which cost him the race and did me some damage. I did another opportunistic move and from there on, I was sliding around with the damage to my car and it hurt my tyres.

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

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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