Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz made pointed remarks over the radio during Q1 of the Grand Prix on Saturday as they battled for track position. Leclerc expressed his frustration as Sainz overtook him on track, despite Leclerc having priority in the session. Leclerc said, “nice Carlos, nice, good overtake in the last corner…” Sainz responded by saying it was unfair to ask him to sacrifice his tire temperature and that he was at more risk as the fourth-place driver.
After the session, both drivers admitted they had overreacted. Leclerc attributed his reaction to adrenaline, while Sainz described it as a moment of high pressure and tension, where he was at risk of not getting a lap in.
When asked about the reasoning behind the driver swap, Leclerc explained that it was anticipated in the pitlane as they always try to get out of the cars at the same time. However, on track, there was more discussion. Leclerc stated that there is one race where he has the priority to choose whether he wants to be in front or behind, and another race where Sainz has that priority. In this particular race, Leclerc had the choice and decided to be in front. However, the timing was tight, and Sainz chose to overtake. Leclerc emphasized that it had no influence on the outcome and that it was not a big deal. Leclerc admitted that his radio message may have been more aggressive than necessary due to the adrenaline in the car. He believed that Sainz would understand their decision after a brief discussion.
Sainz acknowledged that it was “not ideal in these conditions” to let Leclerc pass, but he recognized that his teammate had priority, which is how it should be. Sainz further explained that he was not upset at the end of Q1 but rather experiencing moments of high tension and pressure due to the possibility of not setting a lap because of the chequered flag delay in the last corner. He had to go for a lap to ensure he set a time.
Sainz attributed the confusion to traffic at the end of the session and stated that the “gentlemen’s agreement” among drivers had been completely forgotten. He disagreed with the suggestion that the FIA needed to intervene but acknowledged that drivers were respecting the agreement less and less. Sainz highlighted the issue of drivers overtaking each other, which disrupted the four-second gap that allows each driver to have a chance at setting a lap time. He attributed this disregard for the agreement to the lack of a gentlemen’s agreement among the drivers.