Carlos Sainz Jnr said the Austrian Grand Prix was one of his strongest performances of 2023 but believes Ferrari’s strategy compromised his race.
But Sainz believed his pace was not only strong enough to finish ahead of Perez, who had started 15th, but be level with his team mate.
“[The car] was very quick today, especially with the medium tyres. I felt like we had a lot of pace. It’s just a shame we couldn’t use it fully, but it is what it is,” he said.
Sainz ran in third behind team mate Charles Leclerc through the first stint, and when they pitted together during a Virtual Safety Car period on lap 15 he dropped to sixth while Leclerc remained in second. It took five laps for Sainz to return to third, and there was no net loss of position when he pitted again on lap 45 of 71.
After 13 laps of having Lando Norris and then Sergio Perez in his mirrors, Sainz finally conceded position with ten laps to go. In the time he had spent defending he dropped from 8.5 to 13.7 seconds behind Leclerc.
“I was very quick on the first and second stint, obviously the second stint was already compromised by the first stop pitting behind Charles, and catching the Virtual Safety Car ending, which made me lose six, seven seconds of race time, made me lose positions to cars that I shouldn’t have lost, which meant then I had to push on the medium to overtake them [and] get the track limits [penalty].
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“My race was compromised from that point onwards, but if I look at the pace I was very quick.”
Sainz said Ferrari “need to analyse what we could have done” when he was brought into the pits behind his team mate after the VSC was deployed. “Clearly my race was compromised by that pit stop there. I guess the team had a reason to stop both cars. And if not, I don’t know.”
“We had agreed before the race to work as a team in the first stint to open the gap to the cars behind, so they didn’t want to fight. I followed the plan, even though I had quite a bit of pace and I was quite comfortable there and probably could have gone faster. It’s a shame that after all doing the teamwork and then the pit stop arrives, and you’re compromised the way I [was].”
Sainz reckoned a double Ferrari podium “was possible, especially with the pace I had.”
“I’m just frustrated. It’s been a few races that I have a lot of pace in the car, a lot of race pace, and I wish I could maximise it a bit more,” said Sainz, who would have matched his best 2023 result of fourth had he not been penalised.
“I’m very quick this year, especially in the races. I feel like I’ve done a big step forward, if you look at my pace yesterday and today. But P4 I guess [was] not bad. But I think today P2 or P3 was in our hands.”
He believes the quality of his performance deserved more than the fourth place finish he took before his post-race penalty.
“I’m very happy with my performance today. I think I did some very clean moves. I defended well with Checo. As soon as I was arriving to one car, I was passing them. I was managing my tyres well at the same time that I was attacking. That’s why I’m, I guess, frustrated right now because I struggle to see the positive on this P4 with all the pace and the overtaking and defending that I did.”
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2023 Austrian Grand Prix
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- Verstappen’s determination to grab every point makes him a record-breaker
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