Charles Leclerc ‘hurt’ by Carlos Sainz and promises ‘fight’ as Ferrari rivalry heats up

F1: Sainz says Ferrari move 'changed everything'

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Charles Leclerc was left “hurt” after being beaten by his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz last season, and has promised a “fight” to set the record straight in 2022. Last year was their first as partners for the famous team, and one which proved to be a success all around.

It couldn’t have got much worse for Ferrari, who needed a response after an embarrassing sixth-placed finish in 2020.

The Italian constructor will have been pleased to bounce back to third, helped by a major engine upgrade and strong performances from their drivers.

Particularly impressive was Sainz, in his first season with Ferrari, who stole the spotlight at times from his more established team-mate.

Leclerc, who was handed a huge long-term contract with the team at the end of 2019, was even beaten in the driver’s standings by the Spaniard.

Sainz finished third in the Abu Dhabi season finale, ensuring that he leapfrogged Leclerc to finish fifth – ‘best of the rest’ behind the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers.

While Sainz would have been thrilled with such a strong debut year with his new employers, his Monegasque team-mate has admitted he was left feeling “hurt”.

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“Of course, it hurts,” he said, as quoted by PlanetF1. “It hurts for every driver.

“As soon as you finish behind your team-mate, whether it is in the championship or in one race, it always hurts. You always want to beat your team-mate.

“At the same time, whether I am satisfied with last year’s season, yes I am.

“There are some opportunities that I lost, sometimes by not being lucky, some others because of myself just wanting too much and I am learning from it.”

Leclerc went on to state his belief that it is Sainz’s consistency which makes him such a tough opponent to beat over the course of a season.

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“One of the big strengths of Carlos is just being there all the time and every race he is always there,” he added.

“Myself, sometimes I can be a bit too optimistic and this happened last year a few times and it cost me some points.

“So in the end, I paid the price, I learned the lesson and it hurts but I move forward. It is the past.

“As I said, it hurt at the moment but when I look back across the season, I am satisfied with myself.”

Ferrari have been tipped by many to make even more improvements for the 2022 season, with some analysts suggesting they might even be involved in the title race.

With both Leclerc and Sainz on the hunt for the world title if the opportunity comes along, that presents the possibility of some friction between them.

It also means team orders could come into play during some races, though Leclerc has stressed that, as it stands, the two of them are free to compete with each other.

“Of course, we have discussed it,” the 24-year-old said. “We are free to fight.

“Obviously, without taking any stupid risks because we are fighting for the time and the ultimate goal is to bring Ferrari to the top but we will be free to fight.”

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