Italian media angry at Sainz for hurting Leclerc

Carlos Sainz finished the Monaco Grand Prix second behind Sergio Perez, while polesitter Charles Leclerc finished fourth.

Italian journalist Giorgio Terruzzi has criticised Carlos Sainz for costing Charles Leclerc a place on the podium in Monaco.

After a rain delay at the start of Sunday’s race, Leclerc led team-mate Sainz in the opening stages, with the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in behind.

Red Bull took the decision to pit their drivers for Inters a few laps in, but Ferrari seemed keen to extend their stint on Wets all the way to the transition to Slicks.

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However, they changed their mind with Leclerc, and decided to bring him in for Inters, but it was too late as Perez had already encroached on his pit window, so the Mexican jumped the 24-year-old.

Sainz opted to stay out and, by the time he boxed for Slicks, Leclerc closed the gap, so it would have made sense for Ferrari to leave their driver out for at least one more lap.

Instead, they made a howler by bringing the Monegasque into the pits, before realising what they had done and telling him to stay out.

He had already entered the pit lane though, and a furious Leclerc screamed “What are you doing?!” over the radio.

The time Leclerc lost in the pits cost him a position to Verstappen when he pitted just behind Perez on the next lap, while the Williams of Nicholas Latifi held up Sainz, so he lost the lead to the 32-year-old.

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Terruzzi believes that Sainz put the Scuderia in a difficult position by staying out longer, as they did not know what to do with Leclerc later on.

The fact that the Spaniard did not get the victory, in Terruzzi’s eyes, compounds what was already a selfish move.

“Sainz decided the strategy on his own,” he wrote in the print version of Corriere della Sera in Italy.

“These are choices on which the feelings of the drivers weigh a lot. The fact is that Carlos was not racing to win but to protect Leclerc. 

“He smelled the opportunity he has always been waiting for, he wanted to dare, he thought he should have won.

“Instead, his move sent everyone on a tilt where tactics are decided, without even bringing home the consolation of seeing the second Ferrari driver on the top step of the podium. 

“Therefore, it was a misinterpretation of the driver. Not so much on the tyres but on his role within Ferrari, in a season that is entirely on Leclerc’s shoulders.”

The Italian acknowledges that the strategic errors made by Ferrari “would have made a sloth lose its nerves,” but he still puts the fact that Leclerc finished fourth while Sainz lost out on the win firmly at the 27-year-old’s door.

“Carlos was not very useful to Ferrari, he finished P2. But behind Perez, not exactly a strategic masterpiece. And he was the one who decided the strategy,” he added.

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Sainz’s 18 points in the Principality put him just one point behind Mercedes’ George Russell in the battle for fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Leclerc has now fallen nine points behind leader Verstappen.

Perez’s victory means that he is now 15 points off championship leader Verstappen.