Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz has acknowledged that his own uncertainty resulted in the Maranello team’s decision not to bring him into the pits during the Safety Car phase at the British Grand Prix, ultimately resulting in him finishing in tenth place at the Silverstone circuit on Sunday, following another disappointing performance from the Italian side.
Carlos Sainz lost a position in the start of the British Grand Prix and spent the majority of the first sting in sixth place. However, after teammate Charles Leclerc made an early pit stop, the Spaniard fell to 12th place when he followed suit and switched to hard tires on lap 26.
“I think I was doing a pretty decent race, going long on the medium tyre, putting on the hard and coming back with very strong pace,” the Ferrari man explained at the end of the Silverstone event.
Carlos Sainz wasted no time pushing the hard tires to their limits, taking advantage of their durability from the very beginning. However, just seven laps into his second stint, the race was interrupted and brought under Virtual Safety Car conditions: “The Safety Car came out in the worst possible time for me because I had no tyres left,” explained Carlos Sainz.
Once the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) transitioned into a full Safety Car period, the decision of whether to pit again was left to Carlos Sainz’s team. They opted to keep him on-track, which elevated him to seventh place during the restart. However, at that point, those on faster medium and soft tires only needed to make them last for 14 laps until the end of the British Grand Prix. As a result, just four laps later, Sergio Perez of Red Bull, equipped with soft tires, overtook the SF-23 of the Spaniard. Moments later, Alex Albon followed suit, and shortly after that, his Maranello teammate Charles Leclerc, who had made a pit stop for a tire change, also passed him. On the following lap, Carlos Sainz briefly fell behind Pierre Gasly of Alpine, but he swiftly reclaimed 10th place from him with a daring maneuver at Copse. If the Spaniard had not secured that point, he would have dropped out of the top five in the championship standings ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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Despite finishing in 10th position at the Silverstone circuit, Carlos Sainz believes that the decision to stay out was a decision worth taking:
“Boxing would have meant being P10, not boxing being P6 but with positions to lose. We tried to stay out there, made it work for three or four laps until Checo [got by]. A Red Bull was always going to pass us. I was trying my best to hold on to that position. In the end I was always going to be dead meat, I was on a used hard tyre against fresh mediums and softs. I actually think I did pretty well to stay ahead until a Red Bull on a soft passed me, and then once they pass you, you get a bit of dirt in the tyres and it’s always going to be tricky with all the cars on softer tyres.” – the Ferrari man explained.
Carlos Sainz admitted that he “was 50/50” on the call to return to the box for new mediums and lose three places on track before the final race restart: “That’s why I left it to the team to decide.” It ultimately made little difference given Leclerc could only finish ninth, 0.759 seconds ahead, on his two-stop strategy.”
“I really thought: ‘what do I prefer to be on? A soft in P10, knowing that I’m against same fast cars on softer and medium tyres, which I am not going to have a [chance] to pass, so I’m P10, or a P6 trying to hold onto a hard tyre’. At the end, we tried the riskier one. I nearly made it work”. He finished 2.2 seconds off seventh, but 6.5s back from sixth place. We were certainly today struggling a lot on traction in all the tailwind zones. We couldn’t get on the power, and also the fights and a harder tyre made the fighting a little bit more tricky. We know it’s our weakness, we know where it is. We see it in the wind tunnel, we see it in our car, we see it in the driving and the feeling. So it’s just a matter of developing. At least we’ve done some progress still, but Silverstone has put us back in a position where we know we need to improve.” – Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz concluded.