Carlos Sainz has stood his ground after being criticised by Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen for holding him up during a fraught Australian Grand Prix, saying he felt his outbursts were unnecessary.
Verstappen communicated some candid feelings over the team radio when Sainz was allowed to pit before him, despite him being behind on the track at the time, before feeling as though he was being held up by the Spaniard as they attempted to make up ground in the race.
The battle ended when Verstappen clipped Sainz as they disputed ninth place, with the Dutchman spinning himself around as Sainz continued without delay.
Though Verstappen was defiant at the time by his claim that Sainz held him up, it is an assertion the Spaniard challenges.
“It's not ideal to have someone saying 'Oh I'm much faster, let me by' because it's not true,” he said. “I was forced to switch strategies. If I had done one lap more on that set I would have lost two seconds because already my in-lap was a disaster from that point of view.
“I was defending from Hamilton in to Turn 13 on that lap so I was already going to lose a lot of time and I was going to start to be slower than the medium runners. So that's why I decided to pit without knowing what Max was going to do but I said 'I have to pit otherwise I will start losing too much race time'.”
Though Sainz says he is the person who should have had a problem with Verstappen – rather than the other way around -, he doesn't feel it necessary to approach his team-mate about it as it remains a team matter.
“You need to understand that I don't hear Max's radio communications so I don't really know what's going on behind me. What I know is that when the team told me to let him past that I knew for sure he was saying something. You realise: 'OK, the team is asking me to let him past, there must be something wrong going on back there'. Especially when I know that I'm on the same strategy and I don't need to let anyone past when I'm on the same strategy.
“So I knew that something probably was going on, that some tension was in the air because I could sense it. But after the race obviously I just preferred not to comment on it and not to enter in to any polemics because I think it was unnecessary.
“The problem is me with Max in the end, what did I do wrong with him? I have nothing really to clarify with him, it's more him with the team to see what the hell happened to them or to his strategy or to his pit stop. For me with Max, he hit me from behind - luckily for both nothing happened because then I think it would have been a bit different - but what did I do to him or what did he do to me?”
“In the end I can't complain to him and he can't complain to me because it was more him with the team having a problem than him with me, I think.”
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