Ferrari’s fight is more with McLaren than Red Bull – Sainz

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In the round-up: Carlos Sainz Jnr says McLaren remain Ferrari’s biggest rivals this season, despite their recent form.

In brief

Sainz sees former team McLaren as Ferrari’s biggest rivals

Ferrari were quick enough to win in Monaco, Sainz believes, but says the team’s focus for this season remains beating McLaren to third place behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

Sainz finished second in last week’s race, while team mate Charles Leclerc took pole position. However for now Sainz is convinced that form was “a bit of a one-off.”

“We need more samples,” he said. “We need more tracks to see if this is really happening. But I think our fight is more with McLaren than with Red Bull.”

However Sainz admitted the team “could have won” in Monaco. “I think the pace was there to win and we couldn’t maximise it,” he said. “But we will have more chances in the future.”

Pit stop gamble backfired – Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi finally made his Indianapolis 500 debut yesterday, three years since he missed out on the opportunity due to injury, and came in 25th after gambling on his final pit stop of the day.

The Coyne/Rick Ware racer, who is driving Romain Grosjean’s car for the four oval races on this year’s calendar, ran as high as third at one stage but had to pit for fuel with just five laps to go.

“It wasn’t the finish we were looking for,” said the former Haas F1 driver. “We got caught out by the first yellow after our first stop. We were making our way back up on the restarts and the number 51 car was really racy. Every restart we made up two or three spots.

“We were running in the teens when we made the call to pit under the last yellow to then try and save fuel to only have one more stop to do, but it didn’t go our way. Had a yellow come out, it would have been great, and we would be looking at a different result. It just wasn’t our day.”

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Comment of the day

@F1frog gave the Indianapolis 500 a try yesterday:

I don’t normally watch IndyCar but with no F1 race this weekend there was no reason not to give it a go. But that was enthralling.

It started off a bit slow, but the tension really built up all race, and the end was just brilliant. It was great to see Castroneves win, although I was hoping Sato would be able to save fuel to the end and pull it off. However, I do think Rahal would have won without the wheel failure. What a race!

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On this day in F1

Gilles Villeneuve took an unlikely Monaco Grand Prix victory today in 1981
  • 40 years ago today Gilles Villeneuve won the Monaco Grand Prix for Ferrari by passing Alan Jones, while Nelson Piquet crashed out of the lead. Michele Alboreto made his F1 debut

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A selection of RaceFans’s top reads from last month which you might have missed:

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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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  • 33 comments on “Ferrari’s fight is more with McLaren than Red Bull – Sainz”

    1. The Fittipaldi comment perfectly explains why I dislike modern American auto racing, too many coulda, shoulda, woulda-beens, due to “full course yellows”. COTD suggests that it was still good viewing, I feel that F1 is going in the wrong direction (Bernie started with re-fuelling to attract USA audience) but is still often good viewing despite pit-stops and safety car lottery race changes.

      1. Those blasted Americans and their gimmicky re-fueling during an 800 km race. :)

        1. @reg, Yes, and 800+km races are where refuelling belongs. :)

      2. I also dont understand why they covered more than 15 laps as it seems to come down to those only.

      3. Imagine a world where you’re watching a motor race, and with a quarter of the race left there are still a dozen or so cars with a shot of winning if the circumstances fall right for them and they execute perfectly. 20+ cars in the lead pack are seperated by just 20 seconds. Most are driving flat out with a handful trying a very different fuel strategy. It won’t be clear who’s going to win until the very last lap. An underdog team with a part-time, albeit specialist, driver has won the biggest race of the year.

        Then imagine complaining about this. “It’s too exciting and unpredictable for me,” you say, before retiring to your garden to stare at the grass growing on your lawn and perhaps watch some paint drying on the fence.

        1. It IS exciting with all the race reset yellows, but after a while of this, the novelty wears off and I yearn for sport (honesty and integrity) where the driving and team work over a race distance is valued, and not just who did the last part or got lucky.

          The most popular sports in the world is football and F1 where there’s not much happening, but it’s still more appealing compared to for example handball where it’s actually easier to score than to miss. There’s something called too much of a good thing. It should be difficult, and it should reward the best sport. Better boring than fake, basically.

        2. By the last 25 or so laps the only chance of a different winner than Palou or Castroneves was if there had been a FCY. Even the guys in (virtual) third and fourth had just about no chance of making it up to first. A FCY is indeed a part of racing, but it’s also very random and gambling on it might make some people surprise winners, but it’ll always be a bit of a gimmick to win in that way. I’m not surprised quite a few viewers aren’t big fans of that.

      4. @balue and @hohum There were only to cautions yesterday and I think both of them were very necessary. We saw how much damage a loose tire can do to those cars with Daly, so I don’t think there was anything else that could have been done. I don’t see what else could be done?

          1. @randommallard, Probably explains why COTD enjoyed the race so much, I doubt it’s typical, but no matter, I had no way (known) to watch it.

          1. Page wasn’t updating so I didn’t realise the first one went through. Feel free to report this.

      5. @hohum I do get where the sentiment of your comment comes from. Sometimes full course cautions in NA seem to be there to artificially bunch the field back up. But to me on the oval tracks they really have little choice, no? It is not like they can just flag one corner and let them race it out for the rest of the track.

        Not sure I understand your comment about F1 though. Are you advocating for no pit stops at all? And how do they, and any racing series for that matter, avoid the occasional safety car? Is it that you’d prefer there be no pitting under such a caution so nobody can benefit from the lottery effect?

        Just not sure what you mean when you say F1 is going in the wrong direction.

        1. @robbie, Basically, yes, when I started following F1 a pit stop was a catastrophe (puncture, misfire, damage etc) which only affected the unfortunate/careless driver/team involved, it was definitely not a way to get ahead of your main rival. Safety car or VSC are of course essential but I would very much prefer that they did not change the race result, my suggestion would be to reduce the number of pit crew allowed to work on the car, 2 second pit-stops are impressive but not in any way entertaining, once you have seen one you’ve them all, and of course drop the mandatory tyre change.

    2. Certainly, Mclaren is Ferrari’s biggest rival this season. Next season is another matter.

    3. It’s always The Classic between the two.

    4. Is it me or is the track noticeably wider in that Monaco pic vs today’s track?

      1. Seems far wider indeed, or maybe the cars could be a lot narrower? It was easier to pass in monaco some years ago.

        1. @esploratore it was not really that much easier in the past – if you look at the 1981 race, there weren’t actually that many passes on track during the race, and most of those that did occur were only due to a mechanical issue for the car in front. For example, Gilles Villeneuve might have passed Jones on track, but that was only because Jones had a major fuel feed problem that left him significantly down on power in the closing laps.

          As for your question about the width of the track, the section shown in that shot – which is the straight leading to Tabac corner – doesn’t appear to have actually changed width appreciably. Modern overhead shots indicate that the barriers are still placed in the same position now that they are placed today – it just looks like the shot has been taken in a way that makes the track look deceptively wide (particularly since the cars in 1981 were actually slightly wider than a contemporary F1 car).

      2. @paeschli
        I think it looks wider, because of the type of shot the photographer used and the narrower cars back then.
        If you take the #2 car, you can see the track is about 3.5 cars wide there. Compare that to a ‘modern’ picture and you see there is still about the same amount of space in that section of the track.
        Here’s the picture I used:×720.jpg
        The track looks obviously even narrower now, because of the wider cars F1 introduced in 2017 (compared to the mentioned picture of 2014).

        1. @srga91 the total width of the cars in 1981 exceeds a contemporary F1 car – to provide some examples, the Ferrari 126CK at the front of the shot is 2110mm wide, the Williams FW07 2130mm, the Renault RE30 is 2148mm wide and the McLaren MP4/1 near the back of the shot is 2134mm in width.

          1. Thanks, anon. I didn’t know that. It’s weird how they don’t seem that wide, compared to the ones driven today, even though they were up to 180 mm wider.
            Maybe they don’t seem as wide because they are about 750 mm shorter than the 2021 cars.

            1. *1.15 meters shorter actually, compared to the Ferrari SF21 or even 1.45 meters to the Mercedes W12. That’s insane!!!

            2. @srga91 I think that the reason why they don’t look that wide is perhaps in part because, with the bodywork taking up pretty much all of the space between the wheels, you have a relatively poor frame of reference.

              Unlike a modern car, where you can see the car tapering back from the survival cell, the bodywork of that era encloses the cockpit – with the car largely being a constant width, you don’t really have a sense of the width because there is nothing to show how it varies over the length of the car.

        2. @srga91 The cars of today are only wider than the cars of 1998-2016. The FIA narrowed them in 1998 from 2m to 1.8m primarily to try & slow them down.

          Before 1998 the cars were just as wide (And at times wider) than what they are today (And I always felt the wider cars looked better, Hated the 1998-2016 narrow track cars).

          I think part of the reason cars of the past which were just as wide/wider look smaller than todays cars is perhaps because of the front wings which were made larger in 2009 to extend to the full width of cars.

          1. @roger-ayles
            I quite liked the cars from ’98-’08. They looked really cool, except for the grooved tyres. Then they screwed it all up with those extra wide front wings and hideous looking high and narrow rear wings in 2009.
            I suspect the older cars look smaller, because they were a lot shorter than today’s cars (Mercedes W12 is about 1.6 meters longer than the McLaren MP4/1 from 1981).

    5. In other news, water is wet
      Seriously though, no one really thought Ferrari would challenge red bull and Mercedes over the season, right?
      The hype of some teams is ridiculous like when people thought Williams would actually win at Silverstone in 2015 just cause they got a good start

      Reply moderated
    6. Someone needed an adrenalin rush after a ‘boring’ Monaco.

      1. Looks fun, even though I would never dare doing something like this!

    7. isthatglock21
      31st May 2021, 18:51

      Did anyone ever expect Ferrari to be fighting Redbull? Cause if they were they’d also be fighting Mercedes & thus be in the fight for the title…which clearly has never been the case. The Mclaren fight will be good, but perhaps short lived as Danny Ric is miles away so P3 in the constructors is frankly Ferrari’s to loose, even if they do very bad on some circuits.

      1. No but I just wonder if Sainz was asked anyway, and was just answering by saying I think what we all expect and know…that Ferrari, other than Monaco, will not be fighting RBR and Mercedes. And really, there’s a good chance that had CL not crashed Ferrari would not have been on the ‘theoretical’ front row anyway, so Sainz may have not even been asked the question.

        As to DR, I think he will sort things along with the team, and be more help to Mac in the WCC as each race goes along. But still, I agree it does seem for now at least like the duo at Ferrari should outdo the duo at Mac over the season.

      2. Ricciardo was more or less matching Sainz until his Monaco fiasco, though. He has two 6th places, a 7th and a 9th compared to Sainz 5th, 7th, 8th and no-scoring 11th. Monaco turned that around with Sainz getting 2nd and Ricciardo failing to score. So far Norris is also doing slightly better than Leclerc, so it’ll probably remain quite close between McLaren and Ferrari throughout the season.

    8. It’s interesting how the genes fail in these racing families. Fittipaldi’s, Andretti’s and the Schumacher’s have all the connections, but still get worse and worse by generation.

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