Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz outqualified his highly-rated teammate Charles Leclerc for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix in only his third race as a Ferrari driver but race day in Portimao turned out to be a big disappointment for the Spaniard through no fault of his own. In the wake of the weekend in Portugal, it is worth noting that last year’s woeful Ferrari SF1000 did better than this year’s offering from Maranello; at least last year, both Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc scored points with the latter finishing fourth.
A year later he was sixth and his teammate, this time around, Carlos Sainz was out of the points.
Carlos Sainz’s race was particularly disappointing, not only did he slide mercilessly down the field with the wrong tyre choice in Portimao on Sunday, but he also got the dreaded “Fernando-is-faster-than-you” call to allow faster teammate Leclerc through.
Looking back on a tough race, Carlos Sainz explained: “Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and in hindsight, clearly the hard tyre was simply stronger, particularly on our car. We struggled a lot with the mediums. We need to still understand why we were so prone to graining on that medium tyre, why the combination of the medium with our car was just not working well. In hindsight, for sure we would have done things very differently but with the data we had available before the race, we thought that a soft-medium strategy was going to be OK, and it clearly was not. We have a lot to analyse and a lot to go through now in these next three or four days. I’m sure we will make the right conclusions and improve going forward. I know that in the race, it was in our hands and in my hand to score a top-five, top-six result with a decent race execution and the pace we have shown all weekend. To come out with zero points and an 11th place, it’s difficult to think about the positives,” admitted Carlos Sainz, whose team did him no favours by getting the strategy for the #55 car hopelessly wrong. They had him on the soft tyre to start which kept him in the top six, but once they pitted for the mediums it was game over.
Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, started the race on the mediums and then swapped to hards which operated a lot better than the combo on the sister car. So much so that the team were forced to make Carlos Sainz cede position to his teammate who was a lot faster at that point and thereafter.