Carlos Sainz Jnr has admitted his own indecision led to Ferrari opting not to pit him during the Safety Car period at the British Grand Prix, which led to him finishing tenth.Charles Leclerc pitted early on, Sainz dropped to 12th when he followed Leclerc’s move onto hard tyres on lap 26.
“I think I was doing a pretty decent race, going long on the medium tyre, putting on the hard and coming back with very strong pace,” Sainz told media including RaceFans.
The durability of the hard tyres meant Sainz was able to push on them straight away, but seven laps into his second stint the race was put under Virtual Safety Car conditions. “The Safety Car came out in the worst possible time for me because I had no tyres left,” said Sainz.
After the VSC became a full Safety Car, Sainz left the decision whether to pit again in his team’s hands. They left him on-track, moving him up to seventh at the restart. But by that point those around him on the faster medium and soft tyres only had to make them last 14 laps to the finish.
After four laps Red Bull’s soft-shod Sergio Perez got past Sainz. Albon followed through seconds later and three corners after that Leclerc, who had pitted to change tyres, got by too. The lap after Sainz briefly fell behind Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, but reclaimed 10th from him with a bold move at Copse. Had he not got the point for that position, Sainz would have dropped out of the top five in the championship standings.
Despite falling to 10th at the finish, Sainz believes staying out was a gamble worth taking. “Boxing would have meant being P10, not boxing being P6 but with positions to lose. We tried to stay out there, made it work for three or four laps until Checo [got by].
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“A Red Bull was always going to pass us. I was trying my best to hold on to that position. In the end I was always going to be dead meat, I was on a used hard tyre against fresh mediums and softs.
“I actually think I did pretty well to stay ahead until a Red Bull on a soft passed me, and then once they pass you, you get a bit of dirt in the tyres and it’s always going to be tricky with all the cars on softer tyres.”
Sainz said he “was 50/50” on whether to pit for a second time. “That’s why I left it to the team to decide.” It ultimately made little difference given Leclerc could only finish ninth, 0.759 seconds ahead, on his two-stop strategy.
“I really thought: ‘what do I prefer to be on? A soft in P10, knowing that I’m against same fast cars on softer and medium tyres, which I am not going to have a [chance] to pass, so I’m P10, or a P6 trying to hold onto a hard tyre’,” explained Sainz.
“At the end, we tried the riskier one,” but Sainz reckoned “I nearly made it work”. He finished 2.2 seconds off seventh, but 6.5s back from sixth place.
“We were certainly today struggling a lot on traction in all the tailwind zones. We couldn’t get on the power, and also the fights and a harder tyre made the fighting a little bit more tricky. We know it’s our weakness, we know where it is. We see it in the wind tunnel, we see it in our car, we see it in the driving and the feeling. So it’s just a matter of developing.
“At least we’ve done some progress still, but Silverstone has put us back in a position where we know we need to improve.”
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