Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2019

McLaren right not to gamble on slicks – Sainz

2019 German Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr said missing out on a potential podium finish felt “bitter” but he believes McLaren made the correct strategy calls during the German Grand Prix.

Sainz ran as high as fourth during the race but could have finished on the podium had he not fallen behind Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat after their early switches to slick tyres during the penultimate Safety Car period.

“Every decision that we took probably was the right one,” said Sainz. “In the end we missed out on a podium because of two cars that had nothing to lose and pitted for a slick and benefitted from that.”

The McLaren driver said he wanted to put slick tyres on as the track dried out but understood why the team was unwilling to risk the position he was running in.

“I was [fifth], I asked to pit actually. It was just when you don’t see the Mercedes, the Red Bull and the Ferrari pitting you say ‘we are [fifth], we are crazy if we pit now’. And we missed this.

“We were very close to pitting and that would have given us a podium today. In the end it was a wise thing to [not] do but unfortunately the others profited from a risky decision.”

Sainz spun off early in the race but was able to recover several of the places he lost by being one of few drivers not to put slicks on during the middle of the race.

“I was not very comfortable in the conditions,” he said. “We were running a smaller rear wing than all of our direct competitors and we were struggling to warm up the tyres initially.

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“Then more or less once you got into a rhythm it was fine, it was just the restarts with a smaller rear wing compared to our rivals, it was just a bit more tricky.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2019
Sainz spun on his way to fifth
“That spin cost me,” he added, “but in the end we were one of the only cars not to pit for slicks halfway through the race as it started raining. It was I think a very good call, a nice call.”

Most drivers pitted for slicks just before half-distance in the race, but Sainz said he felt the track was not dry enough. “I [led] the decision of not pitting for slicks,” he said, “that was my personal decision.

“I said it was too wet and I could see rain in my visor so it was not worth at all pitting. And it gave us back a lot of track position.”

However he was prepared to accept the team’s decision not to make an early pit stop for slicks later in the race. “I did say ‘let’s go on a slick’ but at the same time it was too risky. So I perfectly understand that we didn’t pit because no one did, actually, out of the top five cars.

“I had the feeling it was the right thing but it was at the same time very risky so I back the team fully on that. It’s just when you see Kvyat celebrating a podium and Stroll in front of you when they were really far behind, it just feels very bitter right now.

“But at the same time I don’t think we could have done nothing differently. We just did everything perfectly and the guys who had nothing to lose just took a risky decision that came out to be the right one.”

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 9 comments on “McLaren right not to gamble on slicks – Sainz”

    1. I can understand your thinking Carlos.
      But seriously, Mclaren are gunning for points, they are not taking risks to win races. Their ambition right now is to finish 4th. The winning mentality is no longer with this team.
      Redbull are prepared to take risks even when they have much more to lose.
      TorroRosso were in the points and they gambled to score even more points at the risk of losing it all.
      RacingPoint gambled to score points and they did.
      Redbull were in the points and gambled for the win and they did win.
      But, Mclaren were in the points and gambled to play it safe and got nothing.
      Williams were not in the points and gambled to play it safe, and technically got nothing despite the point on technicality.

      1. But this seson’s panning out quite nicely for them, isn’t it? Seidl himself has stressed when he came to the team that this season is transitional and they’re putting far more effort into next year. Considering how they’ve done so far, it rather flatters them. They’ve ended last season in one of the all-time lows and all they wanna do right know is to strenghten their position and become more consistent, which is going quite well. I think we should put our expectations into the years coming.

        1. We’ve had our expectations in years to come since 2013.

      2. I don’t think that’s true at all. McLaren have been in a bit of a transitional period the last 2 years, so I think it’s intentional that they’re looking for consistent points over wins right now. There’s absolutely nothing that suggests to me that they don’t care about winning anymore, they’re just not at the point where they can start going for wins again, and they know it.

    2. 5th was a good result, it increased their lead over the 5th team in the constructors, and especially put more distance to Renault. If Sainz keeps this performance level up, he’d make a great #2 driver for the top three teams.

      1. If Sainz keeps this performance level up, he’d make a great #2 driver for the top three teams.

        @emu55 – um, a #2 for two of the top three teams :) Remember his stint alongside Max? While not a Haasesque mess, it wasn’t pretty.

        But yes, I agree with the sentiment – he’s building a great case for himself, and building up a nice nickname as well: conSAINZtency.

        1. +1
          His stint at Renault made him look not that good

          1. Yeah, at the end of 2018, I was mentally categorizing Sainz as just average. Seeing how Daniel is faring this year, in hindsight I can assume it wasn’t Sainz who was the problem. And Sainz must be heaving a sigh of relief at his luck at being evicted from Renault to land in the McLaren, no one would have realized it was a promotion.

    3. I’ve seen this explained before, but can Dieter of Keith please explain the financial difference between 4th and 5th place in the Constructors Championship?
      BTW-reading some old 2017 issues of MotorSport on the beach this Summer, and Mark Hughes comparing Sainz favorably to Max…

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