Vasseur says he ‘really appreciated’ Sainz and Leclerc’s intra-team tussle in closing stages of Italian GP
Fred Vasseur has reflected on the late battle between his drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at the Italian Grand Prix, the “completely unique” experience of being the Ferrari Team Principal at Monza, and the team’s progress in the championship.
In a strong showing for Ferrari, Sainz pipped Max Verstappen and Leclerc to pole position. However, the Scuderia struggled to match Red Bull's pace on Sunday, with Verstappen and Sergio Perez sealing a one-two finish for the championship leaders.
This left Sainz and Leclerc in a multi-lap tussle for the final spot on the podium, with the two drivers nearly making contact as they went wheel-to-wheel on a number of occasions, before the Spaniard was able to cross the line in third.
And speaking after the action, Vasseur opened up on his decision to let the two drivers continue to fight, before explaining why he felt it was the right call to make for the team despite the risk of them potentially colliding with each other.
“On this, I tend to have the last call, and I told them to race but no risk,” said Vasseur. “But I was much more comfortable with this situation than to freeze… For sure it was a bit of a strange feeling, but I’m a fan of ‘let them race’.
“It was a great feeling, I told them no risk, but the notion of no risk is always relative, and I really appreciated the last couple of laps, and I hope the fans did too.”
With Sainz and Leclerc finishing third and fourth respectively, it meant Ferrari leapfrogged Aston Martin for third in the constructors’ championship. But Vasseur admitted he was more concerned about the next race in Singapore than on the standings.
“I’m not focused on the championship; I think the most important in our situation is to try and do a better job, to fix our issues,” explained Vasseur.
“I think we did a large step forward in terms of understanding in Zandvoort and I hope we are able to have a better pace in Singapore than we have had on the high downforce tracks so far, but let’s see what happens.”
This was Vasseur’s first Italian Grand Prix as the Team Principal of Ferrari, and he was asked whether he was satisfied with the result. He replied: “Yes, it was a good weekend from a sporting side, the best weekend of the season.
“But I think emotionally, this was also a huge amount for me. But also, I try all week to compare the situation, to say to the guys, we can’t score more points in Monza than anywhere else, to keep it a bit easy.
“But when I arrived on Wednesday evening and you have hundreds of guys two or three days before in red and yellow shirts, it isn’t easy… it’s completely unique.”