Portuguese Grand Prix – Ferrari couldn’t quite deliver on their good qualifying after graining saw Sainz fall out of points contention at the end.
Starting P5, Carlos Sainz initially made progress passing Sergio Perez at the start but couldn’t replicate that once the safety car retreated back to the pitlane and lost out to the Red Bull as well as ex-McLaren teammate, Lando Norris. Coming to the first pit stops, Sainz tried the undercut but pushed too hard, graining his tyres and compromising the rest of his race which saw him fall back in the latter stages and just miss out on points.
“I’m disappointed, as I feel we had a good opportunity to score good points today,” said Sainz. “It was looking decent until lap 24, we were putting pressure on Lando, we went for the undercut and unfortunately we didn’t make it stick. We exited behind a Williams, I had to push really hard to try and do the undercut and we opened up the graining on the medium tyre. We were the first ones to stop and we put the medium tyre on and the medium tyre today was not performing on our car, we opened the graining and from there on we went backwards.”
The Spaniard said that looking back on it, the hard compound would’ve been the preferable choice but at the time Ferrari believed the medium would hold up better than it did and they should’ve looked at the bigger picture instead of trying to beat the McLaren.
“The option [to use hard tyres] was always there but we felt the medium was going to behave better than that. We know how important those three laps at the beginning of each stint are, I pushed like hell to try get the undercut on Lando and clearly in hindsight it was too much pushing too early and trying too hard to try get one position but in hindsight we shouldn’t have gone for it.”
“We know how sensitive these tyres are to this kind of pushing and how this can affect them. I think it’s [art of the learning curve, you need to go through these kind of weekends now and then to improve. Honestly the race pace all weekend was looking good, I don’t think today the race pace was the issue but we just got it wrong with the strategy of pushing with the tyres etc and we just didn’t get things right today.”
The sole point scoring Ferrari, in the hands of Charles Leclerc, recovered from a disappointing P8 start to take P6 at the chequered flag, unable to bring the challenge to McLaren this weekend. The Monegasque driver had been disappointed with his performance all weekend but felt he drove better during the race although, like his teammate, had a more difficult time with the medium compound tyre.
“Driving wise it’s definitely the session in which I’ve been driving the best this weekend,” said Leclerc. “I’ve been struggling a lot in free practice, qualifying and finally I managed to do some good laps during the race. Personally quite happy, but I cannot be satisfied with a P6. We’ve been struggling a lot on the mediums with both cars so we need to understand this because that put us a lot on the back foot today unfortunately, apart from that on the hard we were quite competitive.
“For now [McLaren] are a bit ahead of us so we need to catch up, need to keep working. Lando is doing a great job, he hasn’t done any mistakes so far and this pays off so we need to try and do the same thing.”