For Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz, the 2022 Formula 1 season has been one marked by ups and downs. On the one hand, Carlos admitted to being disappointed for the difficult start of the campaign, which was marked by a few errors as he struggled to get to grips with the F1-75 car, losing the chance of fighting for the world championship early on in the season.
On the other hand, the Spaniard secured his first pole position and his first Formula One win, which takes off some of the pressure. At the same time, Carlos gradually improved up to the point of matching his Maranello teammate Charles Leclerc in the second part of the season.
One of the key strengths which Carlos Sainz has shown during the 2022 championship has been race management. Ferrari has been highly criticized for several questionable strategy decisions made by the Maranello pit wall, which have penalized mainly Charles Leclerc and led to big points being lost in the battle against Red Bull. However, Carlos Sainz proved to be a shining light in this regard.
Several times during 2022 we have seen the Spaniard making the right strategy calls from the cockpit, contradicting his Ferrari race engineer, and determining the Maranello strategists to change their decisions, which eventually proved to be the right call.
One significant example took place on the streets of Monte Carlo in Monaco, when the Spanish driver rejected the team’s radio call to pit for a new set of intermediate tyres as the track was quickly drying. Ferrari also called Charles Leclerc for new intermediates, which in the end led to the Monegasque losing not only the race win but even a place on the podium finish. Carlos Sainz instead made the decision to continue for a few more laps on the old intermediate tyres and then go directly for slicks.
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This right call was made by the driver and allowed him to finish in second place behind the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, as his Maranello teammate suffered another major heartbreak in front of his own fans after following the instructions received from the Ferrari strategists that sent him from the lead to P4.
A similar outcome took place in the British Grand Prix, but this Carlos Sainz’s great strategy call helped him take the race win, which was also his first Formula 1 victory. In the last stages of the Silverstone event, as the safety-car was deployed, Scuderia Ferrari made the decision not to change Charles Leclerc’s old tyres. Red Bull and Mercedes were quick to take advantage of the safety-car period to call their drivers for a tyre change, while Carlos Sainz asked for a new set of tyres and then refused – as politely as he could – an order to back up and attempt to let his Ferrari team-mate build a gap given his old tyres, explaining to his Ferrari race engineer that by doing so he would compromise both their results.
After the race restart, Carlos Sainz overtook Charles Leclerc, who was then left defenseless on his old hard tyres and had no change to keep his place on the podium against a charging Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Carlos Sainz feels that the ability to read the race from the car is both natural and something he constantly tries to work on and improve:
“I am relatively cold-blooded in many aspects of life. Sometimes maybe too much. And I don’t show maybe my tension, passion. But it is also something I work on. Having a good fitness level always allows you to have more brain space when you are driving. Having good confidence with the car and yourself helps you to have more brain space to think about what’s going on in the race. And I feel like I always have a clear mind when racing and I can identify the opportunities and the chances to know what is right or wrong from the inside of the cockpit that sometimes is the biggest challenge. I know it’s one of my strengths and I try to exploit it whenever I have a chance.” – Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz said, in a recent interview for the BBC.