Charles Leclerc says Ferrari can’t afford to let himself and Carlos Sainz fight for position throughout the Austrian Grand Prix following their battle during Saturday’s F1 Sprint.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen dominated the shortened race in Austria, taking the chequered flag after leading from start to finish, ensuring he will start from pole position on Sunday.
Leclerc and Sainz crossed the line in second and third respectively after they battled for position during the race.
Although they lost time to Verstappen ahead, they had enough of a pace advantage to George Russell in fourth to ensure that the Mercedes driver didn’t close in on them.
But Leclerc says that Verstappen was too fast for Ferrari during the sprint race.
“[It cost] a little bit [of time]. Whether this was enough to get the win, I don’t think so, because Max was also managing the gap,” Leclerc said.
“We will never know what would have happened. Again, I think it’s very close. Tomorrow tyre management will be a thing, and it will be an exciting race.”
However, with more tyre strategy options and a longer race in play during the grand prix, Leclerc says Ferrari will have to be stricter on how it manages its two drivers.
“I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management is going to be quite a bit more important compared to today. So probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today, no.”
Sainz attacked Leclerc early on in the race, but began to drop back after he locked up his tyres during a failed overtake attempt at Turn 3.
Although Ferrari could’ve interfered with team orders, Sainz concurs with Leclerc that the Italian outfit didn’t miss out on a stronger result due to their battle.
“I think today there was very little to gain or to lose by the fight,” Sainz said.
“We are talking about one point more, one point less because with the sprint, there are not many points going on.
“Also, Max looked very in control the whole race up front, so it’s not like we lost out massively. There were a few battles going on at the beginning.
“First at the start and then with Charles around Lap 4 or 5, which was fun.
“It’s a shame I couldn’t get him in the end, I think he had a pretty good exit there at the exit of Turn 3 and it wasn’t quite enough to get him.”