Carlos Sainz concluded the Austin Sprint Race in sixth place after being the only driver in the entire lineup to start on the soft tires. However, after initially benefiting from the soft tire at the start, where he managed to pass both McLarens, it proved to be less effective than expected and couldn’t match the medium tire’s performance. Carlos Sainz had to defend his position against George Russell. Despite the soft tire not being the best choice in hindsight, Carlos Sainz considered it a risk worth taking, as the team’s models suggested it could be a viable option.
On the grid for the Sprint Race, Carlos Sainz was the sole driver who opted for the soft tire, which, over the long distance, clearly didn’t prove to be the most effective choice in terms of degradation, as confirmed by the Spanish driver himself.
Choosing to start on the softest available compound clearly provided benefits at the start, where Carlos Sainz quickly managed to overtake Oscar Piastri in the McLaren. He then went on to challenge Lando Norris in the other McLaren, executing a nice move into turn 12.
However, after the initial advantage of the soft tire’s grip, its limitations became evident as the laps went on, and it couldn’t match the performance of the medium tires. Nevertheless, Carlos Sainz tried to manage the situation, maintaining a steady pace throughout the race without pushing too hard. Despite fending off the attacks from the McLaren driver, Lando Norris, for several laps, both Norris and Sergio Perez ultimately overtook Carlos Sainz, pushing him back to sixth place.
“When I saw I was the only one starting on soft tires, I thought it might not have been the right choice. Then, after two or three laps, I realized that the medium tire was faster. It’s something we can learn from and improve for the future. At least I held my position. I think we could have done a good job with the medium tire, but I achieved sixth place, defended throughout the race, and did my best,” explained Carlos Sainz before sharing his reasons for choosing the soft tire.
“At the start, I gained two positions in the first lap, which was expected with the soft tire. But it turned out to be slower than we anticipated. I knew the soft tire was a risk we needed to take to learn something for tomorrow, but the medium tire proved to be faster.”
“However, we chose the soft tire because our models indicated that it wasn’t a bad tire; otherwise, we wouldn’t have considered it. We thought it could be a good option, as it had proven to be a good tire in previous years. But not this time. We need to analyze why we made that choice and whether the risk was worth it. It paid off at the start, but then it became complicated.”
“Midway through the race, when Norris and Perez overtook me, I managed to recover the tires and keep Russell at bay, securing sixth place, which, at a certain point, didn’t seem possible,” added the Scuderia Ferrari driver, who expressed his satisfaction with the final sixth-place finish given the circumstances.
Having tested both tire compounds during the Sprint Race, Ferrari now has multiple references for tire behavior over the long distance. Furthermore, Carlos Sainz will have an extra set of fresh medium tires for the race compared to his rivals, a scenario that, from his perspective, provides a slight advantage in case tire degradation becomes particularly high.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
“It definitely seems like we’re in a better position for tomorrow, and we’ve also learned how the soft tire behaves. At least we approach the race knowing how all the tire compounds perform, and we can focus on doing our best for tomorrow, where the most important points are at stake. Today was challenging, but at least we learned something.”
Beyond the tire choices in the Sprint Race, the Spanish driver faced some difficulties throughout the weekend, especially in the first and third sectors. Carlos Sainz explained that he struggled to adapt to the bumpy surface of Austin. Due to the bounces resulting from the road surface conditions, the instability of the car in fast corners further reduced his confidence. However, with limited time before the Parc Fermé, there was no opportunity to work extensively on the setup, which meant sticking with a known but suboptimal setup in terms of performance.
“The car bounces a lot here, and Charles Leclerc adapted better than me. This time, I didn’t have the opportunity to change the setup to align the car with my preferences and continue the weekend with more confidence to find better performance. But that’s how the weekend with the Sprint is – you’re stuck with the base setup. The amount of bumps surprised me; it’s worse than last year. This takes away my confidence in fast corners, and I feel like I could lose the car at any moment, which pushes me to drive one step below the limit, which is not ideal,” explained Carlos Sainz.