‘It’s crazy’: Carlos Sainz defends Charles Leclerc, says Max Verstappen will start making mistakes

Carlos Sainz recovered from starting P19 to finish P5 at the French Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz drove superbly at the French Grand Prix to recover a fifth-place finish, having started from 19th on the grid.

The Spaniard was forced to start from the back of the grid, after being awarded numerous grid penalties for exceeding the legal number of engine components, following on from his F1-75 blow-up at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sainz battled hard throughout the race at the Circuit Paul Ricard, whilst his team-mate Charles Leclerc was leading the race from rival Max Verstappen in the opening laps.

The race took a dramatic turn in its early stages, as Leclerc span-out of the Grand Prix at Turn 11.

READ: British journalist suggests FIA reached settlement with Michael Masi over ‘human error’ that cost Lewis Hamilton 8th title

The Monegasque was unable to reverse out of the tyre barrier and was forced to retire from the race lead for the third time this season.

The incident was solely down to driver error, with Verstappen being on hand to take the race lead and claim yet another victory.

Leclerc’s mistake saw him drop further behind the Dutchman in the Drivers’ Championship, with the 24-year-old now having a 63-point gap to close.

Sainz felt sympathy for his team-mate after the race, where he admitted that he’d made similar driver errors before whilst “pushing flat out at the front”.

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“It’s a tricky corner,” Sainz told reporters after the race.

“We were very fast as a team all weekend in that corner, it’s where we were very strong.

“I think at the front this year we are pushing flat out and not leaving anything on the table, and mistakes like that can happen because we are really pushing flat out at the front.

“It’s crazy the risks we are taking, how much we are pushing, and I’ve done a mistake in a race before.

“Charles has done one today, Max will do one eventually, so it can happen.”

Sainz had managed to make his way up to third in the race’s closing stages; however, he was then bizarrely called into the pits by his pit-wall.

The late stop dropped Sainz to P9, before a late comeback saw the Spaniard rescue a fifth-place finish.

Many believed Ferrari made another strategic error; however, Sainz revealed that he told the team he wasn’t sure if his tyres would last to the end.

READ: Charles Leclerc told to ‘take responsibility’ for costly mistake

“I told them I didn’t think getting to the end was possible, but then I passed Checo and I’m in clean air in P3,” explained Sainz.

“After that, I thought ‘let’s try to finish on the podium’ because I knew a pit-stop would cost me 32 seconds.

“In the end, they have more numbers than me, so I followed the instruction of pitting and I’m sure we will analyse it together, they will explain to me why they took the decision,” Sainz concluded.