Carlos Sainz given ‘clear instructions’ not to ‘fight’ Charles Leclerc

Mick Schumacher drives his father’s Ferrari F2003-GA

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Ferrari star Carlos Sainz has said he was given ‘clear instructions’ not to fight Charles Leclerc in the season-ending Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. The Monegasque driver had to finish ahead of Sergio Perez in the race to secure second place in the driver’s championship – a feat he achieved by a narrow margin with the Red Bull man just over a second behind as the chequered flag came down. 

Sainz was unable to match the performances of his Ferrari teammate over the course of the season, finishing 62 points behind the 25-year-old in the standings. The Spaniard’s season was badly hampered by six retirements which prevented him from gaining any real momentum over the year. 

As a result, Sainz had little to race for during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Ferrari demanding that he helped his team mate. Second place in the driver’s standings would bring the team considerable prestige, particularly on the back of two seasons where they had struggled towards the middle of the pack. 

The former McLaren driver has now explained the team’s thinking as he insisted he was happy about what Leclerc had managed to achieve during the season. 

“I think we worked as a team,” the former said after the race. ”I had clear instructions before the race to not fight him at the start or around the pit stops. We executed a good weekend in that sense and I am happy for him, honestly, because I really think he deserves that P2.

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“I think he deserved to finish second this year. He has been super-strong all year with this generation of cars. He has been driving extremely well and I may have to adapt and change a bit my driving to try and be closer to him. 

“Congrats, because he did a great season on his side on his driving and he deserves that P2 in front of Checo”. 

In the early stages of the campaign, it looked as if Ferrari would be able to mount a title fight after Leclerc picked up wins in two of the opening three races in Bahrain and Australia. However, it was not to be as Max Verstappen and Red Bull turned on the style in the following weeks and coasted home with the championship with four races to spare. 

The Dutchman broke Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher’s record for the most wins in a single season in the process in a year that will be forever remembered as one of the most dominant of all time. 

Sainz and Ferrari will hope to be in a better position when the next Formula One season gets underway in Bahrain on March 5th. 24 races are scheduled to take place in what will be the longest campaign on record giving the team plenty of time to make its mark. 

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