Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz devise Ferrari plan to beat Verstappen at Miami GP

The Ferrari pair have been closely matched on the track but they are putting their rivalry to one side to beat Red Bull star Verstappen at the 2024 Miami GP

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Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have indicated they are willing to put aside their differences to beat Red Bull star Max Verstappen at the Formula 1 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Leclerc will start Sunday’s Miami GP in second place behind polesitter Verstappen, but with Sainz behind him in third, it would be natural for the Monegasque to fear a challenge from his team-mate going into Turn 1 – especially after they collided at the Chinese GP two weeks ago.

However, Leclerc and Sainz both agree their best chance of beating the championship leader is by using their two cars strategically against the Dutchman – hinting team orders could take priority instead of allowing them to race each other for position.

“With the sprint race, we were a little bit closer to what to what we normally see. However, I also said that Max wasn’t really happy with his car this morning in the sprint race, so we need to see how much of a step forward he goes to more being happier with the car,” Leclerc told the written press in Miami, including Total-Motorsport.com.

Charles Leclerc during 2024 Miami Grand Prix | Ferrari
Charles Leclerc will start the Miami GP from second on the grid. | Ferrari

“We did some fine tuning on our side and we are also also confident we did a step forward, so we’ll see but if we have a similar pace like we’ve seen this morning, then I think on strategy… you can always put a bit more pressure. And I hope that is the case. We’ve got the two cars in the front so it’s a good opportunity.”

Tension cooling between the garages

Sainz admitted it would be difficult to stop Verstappen when he is starting on the front row, but echoed Leclerc’s theory about having two cars to fight him, with Red Bull’s other driver Sergio Perez starting behind the Ferrari duo.

“I think when Max starts in front, it’s always difficult to find ways to beat him. Having two cars is our best possible bet in trying to do that,” Sainz added. “We will give it our best shot, knowing that if you look at the last statistics, it’s going to be extremely difficult, but we will do our best.”

The Scuderia pair have been guilty of costing the team valuable points on occasions by fighting each other on the track, which has been fuelled by the competitive nature of their rivalry.

Sainz has claimed three of Ferrari’s last four race victories and is the only non-Red Bull driver to beat Verstappen across the last two seasons. But Leclerc is the team’s top priority after they chose to replace Sainz with Lewis Hamilton for 2025, meaning the latter will be keen to put himself in the shop window.

They are separated by just 10 points in the 2024 drivers’ championship and the Scuderia pair have often found themselves fighting each other for position on the track. But they may have to put their individual rivalry on hold for the greater good of the team in Florida.

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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