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‘Carlos was over the limit today’ insists Leclerc as he reflects on Ferrari’s Sprint squabble in China

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The closing laps of the Shanghai Sprint saw the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz battling hard – with Leclerc left feeling that his team mate had been “over the limit” in his dealings with him.

Sainz spent much of the 19-lap Sprint trying to pass the Aston Martin of compatriot Fernando Alonso. But a thrilling fight between the two ended in contact that saw Alonso retire from the 100km dash – with Sainz suffering damage that pushed him down the order and into the clutches of team mate Leclerc.

READ MORE: Pole-sitter Norris brands Shanghai Sprint ‘frustrating’ after Lap 1 error leaves him P6

Going into the tight Turn 14 hairpin, Sainz appeared to go deep while running side by side with Leclerc, who had to take to the run-off area before eventually passing Sainz and claiming P4, as the Spaniard took P5.

Reflecting after the Sprint, Leclerc predicted the pair would “clear the air” quickly ahead of Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session, saying: “I think it was aggressive, maybe, between Carlos and I – a bit too aggressive. I think Carlos was a bit over the limit today.

2024 Chinese GP Sprint: Ferrari team mates Sainz and Leclerc in feisty running battle in Shanghai

“In the past we’ve had other fights where sometimes I was over the limit, sometimes he was over the limit. Today I think it was on his side. We’ll have to discuss, like we always do in these kind of situations.

“But we have a great relationship with Carlos so I have no worries… I think we’ll clear the air very, very quickly and it will be all fine, but obviously today I think we were pretty lucky to both finish the race. The contact was a bit unnecessary.”

For his part, Sainz was more focused post-Sprint on the actions of Alonso in their sparring match, saying: “Towards the end, I managed to pass [Fernando]. I think he was way too optimistic to try and pass me back and pushed me off the track. That damaged my car, a lot of dirt on my tyres, and started going backwards from then.”

READ MORE: Verstappen charges to victory over Hamilton in dramatic Shanghai Sprint

Both Ferrari drivers will now have a chance to fettle their cars further ahead of qualifying and the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, with Leclerc confident that a strong qualifying would lead to a strong race.

“Full focus on this afternoon because [qualifying] clearly has been my weakness in the last two races,” he said. “The out-lap, I’ve done a lot of work on that. SQ1 and SQ2 yesterday [the first two segments of Sprint Qualifying] were really positive and I showed the progress, now I need to show it today because the qualifying is what is most important. If we have a good starting position tomorrow, I’m confident we can have a great race.”

Alonso ‘was way to optimistic trying to pass me back’ – Sainz

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