It was not a straightforward Grand Prix for Ferrari, which had to settle for ninth and tenth places, a result that clearly cannot satisfy the team from Maranello. Carlos Sainz, starting from the third row, immediately lost a position at the start, being overtaken by a George Russell eager to take advantage of the soft tires to attack the Spaniard and put pressure on Charles Leclerc.
At that point, Carlos Sainz found himself in a bit of a limbo between the two Mercedes cars: on one hand, unable to attack a George Russell who seemed to have the pace to challenge Charles Leclerc, and on the other hand, keeping an eye on the mirrors to monitor Lewis Hamilton’s comeback. Indeed, after a cautious opening stint to manage the tires, the Englishman began closing the gap, eventually getting within two and a half seconds.
Unlike his teammate, who was one of the first to make a pit stop, Carlos Sainz tried to extend his stint by a few laps, taking advantage of the medium tires that seemed to hold up well and show consistency on other cars as well. With Hamilton getting closer and closer, Ferrari chose to call Sainz in at the end of the 26th lap to switch to hard tires and go until the end.
“I think we expected Mercedes to be faster, as it turned out to be the case. We didn’t expect McLaren to be faster, but they were. Overall, we weren’t very strong today. There was a lot of wind, the car was difficult to drive, and it was challenging to find consistency. I think I was still having a good race; we tried to extend the stint with the mediums and then switched to the hards,” the Ferrari driver explained at the end of the British Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, a few laps later, the situation completely changed. The entry of the Safety Car due to a technical issue with Kevin Magnussen’s car came at the worst possible moment, giving those who hadn’t pitted yet, such as Hamilton and Alonso, the opportunity to make their stops and lose less time in the pit lane.
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The choice was made to stick with the hard tire, which clearly did not pay off, causing him to succumb to those who had opted for the soft or medium tires, including his teammate. In an attempt to defend himself from Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz arrived too late at the final chicane, being overtaken in sequence by both Alex Albon with the Williams and Charles Leclerc at the braking point of turn four.
“But then the Safety Car came at the worst moment for me because I didn’t have any other tires. Stopping would have meant finishing in tenth position, not stopping would have meant sixth position but with the risk of losing places. We tried to stay out, it worked for three or four laps, but Perez would have passed us anyway.”
“I tried to hold my position, but I was on the hard tire against fresh medium and soft tires. I think I did a good job of staying ahead until Red Bull passed us with the soft tire. Then I went off-track and lost time,” the Spaniard added – “Today it was a 50-50 decision because I didn’t know what to do, so I let the team decide. I would have preferred to be in tenth position with the soft tire, but facing cars with the same compounds, and we wouldn’t have had the delta to overtake, or sixth position trying to hold on with the hard tires? We made the riskier choice, with the hard tire, but I almost made it work. That’s how it went.”
This brought him to the final tenth position, which clearly cannot leave a smile on the Spaniard’s face, in a race where, nevertheless, the Red car proved to be inferior to McLaren and, to a lesser extent, Mercedes. The goal now is to focus on the upgrades to improve the weaknesses of the car.
“I think it’s very difficult to predict the pecking order. It’s a good thing for F1, but not for us, because we depend on many factors like wind, track layout, temperatures. In some races, we will be strong like in Canada or Austria, while in others, it will be like Silverstone where we won’t be as strong. We need to focus on the upgrades, fix the areas where we have weaknesses, and continue making progress without thinking about others.” – Carlos Sainz concluded.