Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes it is "inevitable" Carlos Sainz will be subjected to Ferrari team orders to aid Charles Leclerc's title challenge.
The Spaniard outperformed Leclerc in his first season with the team last year but the beginning to the current campaign has been a different story.
Whilst Leclerc has taken two victories and two second places in the opening five races of the year, Sainz has finished behind his team-mate on each occasion whilst retiring from the Australian and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix.
Ahead of Sainz's home race this weekend, Palmer was asked if team-orders beckoned at the Scuderia with the former Renault driver telling F1 Nation: "I can pretty much guarantee it won't be this weekend if it does come for Carlos.
"Can you imagine telling him that he has got to get out of the way? He has never won a race so it is the trickiest one for Carlos.
"He beat Charles in the points last year as well so I don't think the point comes just yet. We can all see the direction it is going but you never say never and it just takes a couple of bad races and it can swing back around at this point."
Explaining that Sainz and Red Bull's Sergio Perez were more victims of their team-mates' incredible form than poor performances of their own, Palmer continued: "It is just the relentless performance of those two sort of looks ominous for their team-mates and at some point they will have to [use team orders].
"But there is no way it is coming at the Spanish Grand Prix.
"It would be so irksome for Sainz to get out of the way for his team-mate a this stage in the championship and he will still think that he can be champion. He can cling onto the glimmer of hope."
Sainz still in championship fight - Palmer
The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix saw drama on the opening lap when Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton collided at turn four, leaving the door open for Max Verstappen to clinch his maiden win in F1.
Suggesting Sainz and Perez would benefit from a similar scenario in the near future, Palmer said: "All it needs is a Barcelona 2016, the two championship rivals take each other out, someone else comes through to win and they are all back in the fight.
"So it can change and I think it is too early for team orders.
"I hate team orders but it is probably inevitable. It is going to come probably halfway through the season, let's say."