Frederic Vasseur has moved to douse the flames of obvious rising tension between Ferrari’s two drivers.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s bickering heated up in British GP qualifying, with both drivers complaining about the other and Leclerc sarcastically declaring “Nice Carlos, nice” when his teammate passed him at Silverstone.
“Maybe my message came across as a little aggressive,” Leclerc explained to reporters afterwards. “But in moments like that, a lot of adrenaline flows.”
On that topic, Spaniard Sainz fully agrees with him.
“I think we all speak on the radio, not just him,” he said.
“I think that what is said on the radio should not be taken into account because we are all under pressure and all at the limit.
“Maybe they should also put a microphone on the footballers to see what they say. I think you’d see how much we drivers control ourselves,” Sainz insisted.
Sainz also denied he is “angry” with Ferrari or Leclerc.
“It was just a difficult session to manage,” he told Canal Plus. “We had cars passing us and I thought I would run out of time to do a lap. That’s why I passed him.”
Moments earlier, Sainz had told his Ferrari engineer that letting Leclerc go ahead of him on the track wasn’t fair.
“We have a rule that one weekend he can go to the track first, the next I can,” he said. “And here in England it’s his turn.
“But I felt I was in greater danger. In the end the chequered flag was coming and if I didn’t go for it I was out.”
Team boss Vasseur tried to brush the incidents aside.
“We’ll discuss it over a beer,” he smiled. “It was all a bit unfortunate.
“Lewis Hamilton suddenly overtook a few cars before the last few corners and that made it a bit chaotic. Our drivers suffered from that. But everything will be alright.”
The driver tension is probably best explained by the fact that Ferrari’s season is not turning out as planned, with the McLarens leapfrogging the Maranello team at Silverstone.
Sainz added: “We’re seven to eight tenths slower than Red Bull here, so if nothing out of the ordinary happens, it should be difficult on Sunday.”
Leclerc agrees: “It was surprising to see McLaren so fast. But everything is possible for tomorrow.”