Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc had a difficult weekend at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, starting with the qualifying session on Friday evening, when he was unable to set a flying lap due to a wrong tyre call made by the Maranello team. After a great recovery race on Sunday at Interlagos, Charles Leclerc expressed his frustration for the Maranello team not imposing team orders in the final stages of the Brazil Grand prix, as Carlos Sainz was running in third place just ahead of him, but at the end of the Sao Paulo event he calmed his stance after the Italian side decided to keep the positions of its drivers.
Charles Leclerc’s Brazilian Grand Prix was very eventful, but despite being last on lap 8, the Monegasque driver made his way through the field back up to P4 in the final moments of the race, with his Maranello team-mate Carlos Sainz up ahead in third, behind the two Mercedes cars which proved faster this weekend at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
The Monegasque driver is fighting Sergio Perez for second place in the Drivers’ Championship, with both drivers now having the same number of points ahead of the final round of the 2022 Formula 1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. As a result, Charles urged Ferrari over radio to allow him to overtake Carlos Sainz with the goal of scoring three additional points against the Mexican driver, who could only manage P7 in Brazil.
Carlos Sainz, who took advantage of a late Safety Car to move back on the soft tyres, was therefore able to keep his third place, with a gap of about three seconds ahead of his Maranello team-mate during the last few laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix, as the Spaniard secured his ninth podium finish of the current campaign.
Charles Leclerc’s race looked over on lap 8 when Lando Norris hit him at Turn 6, sending his F1-75 car into the barriers, with the McLaren making contact with the right-hand side of his bodywork. The Brirish driver was found guilty of causing a collision and received a five-second time penalty, while the Monegasque driver was able to return to the pits and surprisingly continue the Interlagos race despite the big impact.
After the Sao Paulo event, Charles Leclerc was asked about the incident with Lando Norris and pointed out that “I thought I had left the space. Well, I’m pretty sure I left the space.” – the Monegasque explained, in an interview for Sky Sports F1 – “I think he lost the rear and then touched me. So yeah, it’s a shame. But then after that it was a good recovery but not enough to obviously challenge for better positions.” – he added.
From that point, Charles Leclerc started his recovery race with many overtaking moves as he was making his way back through the field. Ironically, it was the technical failure of Lando Norris’ McLaren that led to the Safety Car being deployed, which gave Charles Leclerc the opportunity to recover the gap to the drivers ahead, especially Sergio Perez, which was overtaken by both Charles and Carlos as he was running on used medium tyres.
Hoping for even more, the Monegasque then urged in vain for Scuderia Ferrari to asked Carlos Sainz to let him by, but after the Brazil Grand Prix he played down the radio messages from Interlagos, as he is now focused on the decisive battle, scheduled to take place at the end of the week in Abu Dhabi, with he and the Mexican level on 290 points apiece.
“Obviously, in the heat of the moment I wasn’t very happy, but for other reasons obviously,” he hinted. “We have talked a little bit about this situation beforehand. So, it’s like this. At the end it’s equal points on the last race with Checo and it’s up to me to do a better job, and then we’ll see.” – the Monegasque driver explained.
When Carlos Sainz was asked about this situation, the Spaniard confirmed that he was not aware of any requests coming from his Maranello teammate and was focused on trying to catch the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of the race. At the same time, Carlos confirmed that had he been asked to let Charles pass him, he would have done so to help the team and his teammate: “Honestly, no information came to me at any point in the radio. So I guess the team was managing it with him but you guys know that I’m a big team player and whatever would have come I would have done but it never came to me.” – Carlos Sainz concluded.