Sainz warned Ferrari will use team orders to help Leclerc in championship fight with Verstappen

Carlos Sainz Jr is already 51 points behind his championship leader team-mate Charles Leclerc after just five rounds.

Charles Leclerc has started the 2022 season in emphatic fashion, having won two of the five races so far this year.

The Monegasque driver currently sits top of the drivers’ championship on 104-points, 19 ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

Leclerc’s strong start to the new season comes on the back of finishing behind team-mate Carlos Sainz in 2021; the tables appear to have most certainly turned at Ferrari.

READ: Leclerc wary of Verstappen’s edge after Spain pole

The Spanish driver has had a difficult start to the season, having retired from two of the last three races as a result of qualifying further down the grid.

Sainz span into the gravel in Australia early on, whilst trying to fight his way through the field.

In Imola, Sainz’ race again ended in the gravel, after being spun by Daniel Ricciardo.

These results has seen the Spaniard slip to fifth in the standings, 51-points behind his team-mate.

Ex-F1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes that whilst they won’t be imminent, team orders at Ferrari will eventually come into play.

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“It’s the trickiest one for Carlos, because he beat Charles in the points last year,” Palmer said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“I don’t think that point [of using team orders] comes just yet. We can all see the direction it’s going, but you never say never.

“It just takes a couple of bad races, and it can swing back round at this point.

“It’s just the relentless performance of those two [Leclerc and Verstappen] sort of looks ominous for their teammates, and then eventually, at some point, I think they have to do [team orders].”

The sixth round of the championship takes place this weekend, as Sainz prepares for his home Spanish Grand Prix.

Palmer “can pretty much guarantee” that team orders won’t come into play at the Spanish driver’s home race.

“I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be this weekend, if it does come,” added Palmer,

“For Carlos, can you imagine telling him that he’s got to get out the way? And he’s never won a race.

“[There’s] just no way [team orders are] coming at the Spanish Grand Prix.

“It would be so irksome for Sainz to have to get out the way for his team at this stage in the championship, and he will still think he can be champion.

“You can cling on to the glimmer of hope, and all it needs is a Barcelona 2016 [where Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided]. The two championship rivals take each other out, someone else comes through to win, and they are all back in the fight, so it can change.”

With almost three-quarters of the season remaining, it seems unlikely that team orders will be coming into play anytime soon.

With the championship now back in Europe, the rounds will begin to tick-off considerably faster.

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix is immediately followed next weekend with the Monaco Grand Prix, Leclerc’s home race.

Whilst Palmer agrees that it’s too early, he does think it’s “inevitable” that team orders will come into play at Ferrari.

“I think it’s too early for team orders,” the former Renault driver said.

“I hate team orders, but it’s probably inevitable. It’s going to come probably halfway through the season.” Palmer concluded.