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Sainz issues caveat to Leclerc championship aid

Sainz issues caveat to Leclerc championship aid

F1 News

Sainz issues caveat to Leclerc championship aid

Sainz issues caveat to Leclerc championship aid
Ian Parkes & Sam Hall

Carlos Sainz has conceded the added difficulty that could prevent him from assisting Charles Leclerc in his team-mate's battle for P2 in the drivers' standings at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ferrari faces a battle on two fronts in Sunday's race with Leclerc's challenge to clinch the runner-up spot in the drivers' standings doubled by the fight against Mercedes to finish second in the constructors' championship.

It means while Red Bull can utilise Max Verstappen to aid Sergio Perez, with the Mexican and Leclerc level on points but the latter ahead on race wins countback, Ferrari has to focus on the team on the front row and Mercedes behind.

Asked about his willingness to help Leclerc, who starts a place ahead of the Spanish driver from third, the duel pressure was evident in Sainz's thinking.

“If he needs it, I will give him a hand," said Sainz. "But first, he needs to beat Checo himself in the championship.

"I will focus on my own race and try to finish on the podium, or on a high, and if the team asks me to let him by or help him in the fight with Checo, I will do so.

“Also, you need to take into account that our priority is also beating the Mercs.

“That’s why we need to play it by the moment and see where everybody is at what time. I’ve never had a problem letting anyone by in a race - with any team-mate - and I don’t think it should be a problem for me."

Despite holding the advantage over the Silver Arrows on Saturday, however, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on the third row, Sainz issued a word of caution given the improvements consistently shown by Mercedes across the year.

“They are normally quicker in the race than they are in quali so I expect them to be right there in the fight with us," he added.

“I was actually surprised to see them so far behind in quali because over one lap they have been quicker than us.

“They will be tough to beat but I think we are in a good position to out-race them and seal P2 in the championship.”

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