Start, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

‘Dad would be proud of my rally skills’ says Sainz after taking lead at start

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says that his World Rally Championship-winning father “would be proud” of his start on a slippery track at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver took advantage of treacherous conditions as rain fell at the start, using his soft tyres to move up at the expense of those ahead who found it difficult to increase the temperature of their medium rubber.

He moved up from seventh on the grid to second on the opening lap, then passed Valtteri Bottas for the lead of the race.

“It was exciting,” said Sainz. “I’m really happy with those opening laps. I think my dad would especially have been happy with the rally skills.

“I saw the rain coming down a bit. I decided to really put a lot of emphasis into warming up the tyres on the formation lap. I think that gave me a bit of an edge on my competitors. I think my dad would be proud of those as he always says you need to shine in those conditions.”

Despite his exceptional start, after four laps at the head of the field Sainz began to fall down the order as his soft tyres faded. A late pass on Sergio Perez ensured he finished sixth.

“We started graining massively and we started going backwards,” he explained. “So from there on, it was the tale of the last few races: Struggling with the front tires quite a lot with a graining. It’s a shame, but it is what it is.”

While sixth place saw McLaren increase a slim margin in the constructor’s championship over Renault, Sainz says he would have wanted a better result given the early pace.

“I guess for the championship it’s not a bad result, but we wanted more,” Sainz says.

“As a team, after leading the race, you at least expect to hold on to fourth. But we didn’t have the pace because of the graining today.”

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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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...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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12 comments on “‘Dad would be proud of my rally skills’ says Sainz after taking lead at start”

  1. The way he phrased this makes his dad sound dead :-/

    1. +1 , guess he not being native english speaker might be reason for that.

  2. Sainz is one of the best drivers in tricky conditions. He just hasn’t got that much credit since he has never driven race-winning car.

  3. This was actually a top stuff from McLaren, a step further in comparison to Monza. Too bad the strategy wasn’t optimal and Norris’ race was ruined by the incident.

  4. Ferrari’s getting a top driver next year.

  5. Before the DRS days, he may have been able to finish in the top 4. They need to make DRS about 33% shorter everywhere. We would have had a lot more exciting passing in other areas. They thought you couldn’t pass anywhere, but that’s only Tilke’s Mickey Mouse tracks. Once again, like Mugello, you can see that real tracks produce better racing.

    1. Nick T., I am not necessarily convinced, because although Sainz had a few strong opening laps, after that you could see that McLaren really were struggling on those soft tyres relative to those who were on the mediums.

      If you compare Sainz’s time from about lap 4 onwards to Leclerc, to pick one example, Leclerc was regularly lapping around a second a lap faster; Gasly was fairly consistently about 7 tenths faster, Perez was getting close to a second a lap faster and so on.

      Even without DRS, as soon as those drivers in the midfield on the medium tyres started to get their tyres into working temperature range, they had a pretty sizeable speed advantage and you could also see that Sainz was drifting wide on a number of corners as his tyres started to give up grip sooner than those behind him. With that in mind, they’d probably have got past him anyway one way or another – the overall pace advantage they had was too big anyway.

  6. I do think that the McLarens tend to start very well. I remember many other races with either Sainz or Norris challenging Verstappen during the first lap, and maybe second as well, only to fade after the start.
    It seems they make the tyres work faster, either the car or just their own work in the formation lap.

  7. I really liked his comments about seeing the rain and doing his best to put extra heat into those soft tyres during the warmup lap. I figure Kimi did something like that (and maybe Norris as well?).

  8. Maybe you would agree? DRS needs to simply be programmed so auto shut off when either the cars get alongside each other or when the chase car is sufficiently within the slipstream of the other car (about a tenth behind)

    1. Was thinking something like this too. It seems much more plausible if they can use DRS to close bigger gaps, then the DRS closes when within the second. So the other way around. Not sure how to set up who can use it when tho. Then its all DRS all the time, except the leader.

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