Carlos Sainz was voted driver of the day in France, after falling from 19th to 5th place in the race. And although the Ferrari driver said he could have made it to the podium with a « perfect race », he was happy with the team’s strategy and the points he picked up on Sunday.
Sainz started 19th (thanks to grid penalties) on hard tires and reached P3, overtaking George Russell and Sergio Perez after the safety car for Charles Leclerc’s crash. However, the Spaniard had been handed a five-second penalty for a dangerous release, and the team opted to see him serve that penalty in the pits and take another set of medium tires on lap 42, after which he returned to fifth place at the flag.
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Asked if he could have won, he replied: “No, no, not the victory, but the podium, I think with a perfect race we could have done it; victory I think, Max. [Verstappen] was pretty quick and perfect there, so starting last, it’s not like you can beat Max. But yes, it was a good recovery, a fast pace. I think that without the penalty, if we had started on pole or on the front row as we could have done yesterday, the victory would have been possible.
“I think the team is doing a very good job on strategy this year; i still believe that at Ferrari we get super criticized for things that other teams might go through in pit stop windows too, and whenever there’s an awkward moment on strategy we discuss things . But we are not a disaster as people seem to say. We like to discuss things, we are open about it. »
Ferrari’s strategy has been criticized by some as Sainz was asked to pit as he was about to overtake Perez for the final podium spot (main video) – but Sainz has defended the decision and explained why he ended up pitting for another set of medium compound tires after passing the Red Bull.
« Yes, I was in the middle of an overtake, but I didn’t think it was the right lap to stop and get back into the peloton, » he said. “I think at that time it was better to take the risk to stay out and see what happens with the tyres… but I had just arrived in P3 and saw a podium position I thought to myself, if I make these tires last, maybe I can finish on the podium.
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But we’ll never know, it was a feeling; the team has a lot more data on the computer they have a lot more numbers to go through and if they made that decision I’m 100% confident they made it with the best of intentions and with the better mind. It’s fair, we have to keep improving and we have to analyze everything and see if we can do better, but I’m convinced the team is doing a good job there. »
With the P5 and the bonus point for the fastest lap, Sainz left France happy with his spoils.
“We started 19th and how was the pit stop and how everything went, to finish P5 and the point for the fastest lap, that’s good. I’ll take it, but I think with a perfect race we could have been higher. »