Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Sainz calls Sochi “definitely my best weekend for Ferrari” after podium

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr said his third podium finish as a Ferrari driver at Sochi was the product of his best weekend so far with the team.

He qualified on the front row of the grid and passed Lando Norris for the lead at the start. But the McLaren driver later found a way by him, and after Sainz pitted his team initially told him he was on course for fifth place at best.

“It came as a bit of a surprise, obviously, because after leading the race, you are at least confident that you are on the fight for the podium,” Sainz admitted.

“I didn’t exactly know where the others were at that point on track. I knew I had done the pit stop and I knew that I was not getting over-cut by anyone so the pace was decent. Maybe our simulations suggested that because everyone was going to the medium at the end, we were going to be an easy prey for them and we were most likely going to finish P5.

“But at that point I was stuck in traffic with the hard tyre, I think I was stuck behind Bottas and I was stuck behind Gasly. Then once I managed to make it through, I could basically do my own pace.”

Sainz was running third when the rain began to fall at the end of the race, but regained the position after pitting for intermediate tyres.

“I increased the pace quite a bit, we managed to find a decent pace to be P3 and we were on course for P3 until the rain hit and then it was chaos and a mess,” he said. “In the end it was going to be a bit better than P5 and I’m glad that we managed to recover a bit from there.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Sainz contained the quicker Norris as long as he could
Sainz was satisfied with his performance after finishing behind championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

“It is my best weekend with Ferrari, definitely,” he said. “I think I managed to put up a very strong weekend from practice especially into, obviously, Q3. And then a good start and good pace management in very tricky conditions.

“So I’m not going to lie, I’m proud of the weekend. I think that the team has also done a very good job with pit stop calls, going onto a soft tyre at the right time [in qualifying], going to the medium tyre at the right time [in the race] and then putting the inter tyre at the right time. So overall I think it’s been my strongest weekend in Ferrari.”

However he admitted he wasn’t entirely happy to finish on the bottom step of the podium after leading the early stages.

“I don’t know if it was perfect, it’s a very strong word sometimes. There’s always things, when you look back, that you can improve, so perfect is not the right word. But my most complete weekend, let’s put it like that, yes it is.

“Obviously to finish P3 after leading a race, it doesn’t taste as good. What we need is to keep working as a team to make sure that the next time I am in the position of leading a race, we make it stick and we win the race and we don’t suffer as much as we suffered with graining, and we were also vulnerable on the straights and all that. Make sure we keep improving as a team to make it stick next time.”

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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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32 comments on “Sainz calls Sochi “definitely my best weekend for Ferrari” after podium”

  1. Great stuff from Carlos! A performance that puts him in front of Charles, quite a feat actually. Haters gonna hate but still quite a nice job!

    Reply moderated
  2. Although he did lead the race at one stage, he did wear his tyres out quicker than many. I personally think he we better than this in Monaco where he looked to be pressuring Bottas and he could well have got 2nd there even without Bottas retiring.

    1. @thegianthogweed Sainz and Verstappen blamed their quick performance drop off to graining. Not sure how they consider this something that just happens to them or how much of it is their own doing.

  3. The performance of Sainz is slowly overshadowing Leclerc’s mediocre season. I wonder what the implications are going to be for the pecking order in the upcoming years.

    1. Sainz is really doing very well. Despite making many mistakes in his learning year eg. baku, he is ahead of leclerc in the championship after so many races. Certainly much better than what seb has done in 2019.

    2. if you look closer at the performance of the 2, Leclerc is massively outperforming Sainz. He’s been a bit unlucky in that he hasn’t had the chance to be there on the weekends when things have fallen Sainz’s way (admittedly he is partly to blame for Monaco missed win), but I believe he’s up 11-4 in Quali (2 of Sainz wins when Leclerc had engine issues) and not been beaten in “standard” races.

      1. @j4k3 That’s not accurate though. Leclerc has been probably slightly better, but it’s very close. Both have made too many mistakes, with Sainz in particular having too many practice crashes, but the main problem has been Ferrari’s duff strategies – they seem to mess things up for either one or the other most weekends. On the whole though, they’ve probably been the most evenly-matched teammates.

    3. It shows both are mediocre and Ferrari needs a real Champion who can lead the team and has the consistency to lift the performance of Ferrari and fight for the WDC.

      1. When Ferrari had 2 world champions recently (Vettel and Raikkonnen) it didn’t help them very much did it… and then Leclerc came in and thrashed Vettel. Sainz’s ability is shown by both the fact he is very close behind Leclerc this year, and by the demolition job Norris is doing on Ricciardo. So I don’t think the drivers are the issue at Ferrari, indeed I’d say they have 2 of the current top 5. The issue is the car is not good enough, and the strategic decision-making is nowhere near good enough.

    4. The performance of Sainz is slowly overshadowing Leclerc’s mediocre season. I wonder what the implications are going to be for the pecking order in the upcoming years.

      That must surely be a joke?

    1. Dave
      The king of one-liners.

      Reply moderated
  4. Now it you had lead a few more laps or won – that would have been special. These opportunities don’t come often.

  5. Sainz rates himself ‘near perfect’. The guy can’t help himself.

    He was almost beaten by his team mate who came from the back of the grid, but was saved by just a few meters to get the first call to the pits. He had some big offs and was really lucky not to crash again.

    And what about him not calling for inters like Norris is being questioned for? He actually wanted a change to softs, and should just thank his engineer for not obliging.

    1. What is your problem with Sainz? Did he take your girl friend? You are always against any good comment on him!

      1. I can’t stand narcissists and bragging. Especially when they are wrongly promoted by fans. This site will hail Sainz at any opportunity for no good reason, and then somebody has to be the voice of reason.

    2. Out of 53 laps, Sainz ran 14 laps on the C4 compound, 34 laps on the C3 compound, and switched to intermediates on lap 48 for the final 5 laps.

      Leclerc ran 35 laps on C3, 16 laps on C4, and and switched to intermediates on lap 51; 3 laps later than Sainz.
      Given those facts, saying that Sainz “was saved by just a few meters to get the first call to the pits” makes no sense.

      Even if Ferrari didn’t want to double-stack their drivers on Lap 48, Leclerc still could have salvaged points by making the intermediate switch on lap 49 (same as Hamilton), or lap 50 (same as Alonso and Perez).

      If there is any question, it should be if Ferrari’s strategists were comparing sector times between their drivers and had ordered Leclerc to pit, or at least were conveying Sainz’s sector times to Leclerc so that he could make an informed decision.

      Although Leclerc left empty-handed from Sochi 2021, and Norris left sorely disappointed, the lessons will only make them stronger. These two are good enough that there is no need for fans (or journos) to denigrate their teammates in an effort to make them look better.

      Reply moderated
      1. If anyone’s call for tyres should be questioned, it’s Sainz who were struggling big time on his older harder tyre at the end, and like I said really wanted softs. And if a driver is responsible for calling tyres, Sainz should have refused to come in early for his first stop, and certainly managed the tyres better which is part of his job description in order to go longer. Instead he kept complaining about his front left tyre just because his ego was hurt Norris was catching and passing, which led the team to think there was not much life left, and pitted him in order to cover Stroll (?!), even though they said on the radio that Norris’ left front was shot too yet was he was picking up the pace and passing.

        With having to push the new hard tyres with overtakes and for such a long stint because of this, he lost out when the rain fell, which was therefore just as much Sainz’ fault as anything. Norris first stint showed how it was done with not pushing too hard on the tyre early, dropping back from Sainz, but coming back to pass and then coping with the graining phase later and able to avoid dropping into the middle of the field with an early stop like Sainz did for no real good reason. Sainz even came on the radio early how he was struggling with how difficult the whole saving tyres and car thing was which is frankly a bit embarrassing for a professional Ferrari driver to say.

        He lucked out, but will of course take full credit, as is typical. He would like to call it perfection, but even he could see that’s a bit too much to say.

    3. Correction: Sainz was actually passed by his team mate before the last pit stops.

    4. He was asked if it was perfect and said it wasn’t but he was proud of his first complete weekend at Ferrari. You’re reading what you want into his responses and not what he’s actually saying.

      1. There is nothing that says he was answering a question when he talked about being perfect

        1. He was asked how his weekend was and said it “wasn’t perfect” but was his best yet at Ferrari. Nowhere does he say he rates himself “near perfect” as you want to read it.

          1. You keep saying that, and I can keep saying that there is nothing that says he was anwering a question when he talked about being perfect.

            One of us can’t seem to read properly, and it seems to be you. I’ll quote it directly here:

            However he admitted he wasn’t entirely happy to finish on the bottom step of the podium after leading the early stages.

            “I don’t know if it was perfect, it’s a very strong word sometimes. There’s always things, when you look back, that you can improve, so perfect is not the right word. But my most complete weekend, let’s put it like that, yes it is.

    5. >He actually wanted a change to softs, and should just thank his engineer for not obliging.<

      Your narrative is at odds with what was actually said over the radio.
      On lap 46 (which is one lap before Bottas pits), Sainz radios his race engineer "Okay be ready with the Inters, Be ready with the Soft. And on lap 47, he adds "Turn 7 is wet now, Okay? So be ready." Later on that same lap, Sainz radios "Okay!, It's nearly Inter." And after his race engineer replies "Copy", Sainz repeats "Okay, be ready". A few minutes later he flip-flops between choosing softs or inters, but ultimately he concludes "I think Inter". During the entire discussion, Sainz's race engineer leaves the call up to him, and refrains from urging him towards one tyre or the other.

      Reply moderated
      1. @balue

        “I increased the pace quite a bit, we managed to find a decent pace to be P3 and we were on course for P3 until the rain hit and then it was chaos and a mess,” he said. “In the end it was going to be a bit better than P5 and I’m glad that we managed to recover a bit from there.”

        Probably it’s not Sainz’s intention to brag, but he’s been overly optimistic there. Actually he was pretty much on course to finish P5 before any rain fell down, even being overtaken by four cars in the next two laps under the drizzle on a damp track, such was the state of his tyres. Perez and Alonso ran long first stints on the hards, managed to nurse them better, and very likely would have gotten him anyway near the end of the race, just like Alonso did in Zandvoort.

        Reply moderated
      2. The calls from Sainz were: “For me it’s maybe soft. This hard is *bleep*”
        ..then: “guys if it keeps raining we need to box. I can not do another lap like this”
        Then from the team: “What tyre you want?”
        Sainz: “Maybe soft”

        This is about as clear instruction as a team will get about tyre choice as the driver is approaching pit entry at a critical time. He could easily have been ordered in and fitted with softs and would have been last.

  6. Nepotism journeyman needs to get a reality check and stop the hype from a fluke podium thanks to cars ahead of him staying out too long on dry tires(Perez was deliberately kept out as an insurance policy for RB if the rain stopped), without the rain Perez would’ve overtaken him for 3rd anyway because superior pace and fresher tires . Also it helps when most of the big players started at the back.

    heistheone is right, ferrari are a joke with meh’ drivers and fragmented management.

  7. I don’t see it. Sainz is not good enough on tyre management and therefor not a WDC candidate. He lucked out this time because of the rain and Charles poor decision to stay out.

  8. There’s also these bragging nuggets from Sainz:

    “We made exactly the right decision at the right time”

    No, everyone knows you were obviously a lap too late.

    “I’ve never crashed in my career,” said Sainz. “I’m a driver that never puts it in the wall, but for some reason, there have been a few crashes that show that I still don’t fully 100% understand the car.”

    This is of course against the well known truth and follows the Sky F1 commentator in the race publicly and embarrassingly listing Sainz’ numerous crashes only at this track in the past.

    And of course being overtaken by Norris was not his fault:

    “As a team, we just need to keep analysing and seeing what we can do better, with tyres, fuel, with a bit more top speed to make sure the next time a Ferrari is leading a grand prix, we don’t get overtaken so easily as happened today.”

    The worst part of all is that people actually fall for it..

    1. @balue
      Should he have tried so hard to keep Norris behind in the beginning of the race? He didn’t manage to hold on for really long anyway and it complicated his race on tyre management issues afterwards (lucked in the rain, so it went unnoticed, which is not a good sign). His race was not very well-planed at all, and of course that operational mess of post-Schumacherian Ferrari hardly ever helps, but at least they made one – not so hard to take – correct call at the end.

      Reply moderated
      1. @rodewulf Ferrari’s strategy is awful as always, but Sainz had a big role to play as well. Even I could see that an early stop would be very costly and the key was to stretch out the first stint, and that graining is a phase that can be gotten through, but Sainz started to complain the tyres were gone just because he got overtaken, and that surely influenced the decision for the early stop no doubt.

  9. As for his ‘not understanding his recent crashes, thinking it’s something he doesn’t understand with the car’, there’s this:

    “This weekend, I also made a conscious effort to take it step by step, through free practice, into quali, and be fast really when I need to be fast instead of being fast straight away in FP1.

    “And it has worked well, it has given me good confidence, and I’ve been quick all weekend and I’ve been feeling at home.”

    *rolleyes*

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