Sainz now looking like ‘the Carlos I want to be’ at Ferrari
Carlos Sainz says he’s starting to come into his own at Ferrari, hailing his team’s recent improvements and the proper execution of his races.
The Spaniard crossed the finish line sixth in Austria on Sunday after a feisty finale during which he snatched from McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo his final position at the checkered flag.
After both Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc qualified just outside the top ten, the Scuderia took advantage of its free choice of tyres to implement different strategies for its drivers.
While Leclerc was put on mediums at the start, Sainz opted for the hard compound and the prospect of a long first stint. But with grip at a premium in the early stages of the race, Sainz faced a tricky task at the outset.
“It was a bit of a bold choice to start on the hard, especially feeling the grip on the formation lap,” he said. “And on lap 1, I was like ‘Wow, I’m really going to struggle versus the medium and the soft runners’.
“But somehow, I managed to keep it together, stay patient, a very long stint on the hards – I think it was fifty laps – and then attack at the end which was super good fun.
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“And we managed to put together a very strong P5 finish. Very happy.”
Sainz’s rotation to the medium tyre left him in eighth position, just behind Leclerc. But the Spaniard’s pace versus the hard-shod Monegasque compelled Ferrari to swap its drivers, after which Sainz was free to hunt down Riccardo.
“It’s great because you have fresh tyres,” he said, reflecting on his car’s performance. “Having a bit more top speed would have made the move on Daniel a bit easier but I gave it my best.”
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Sainz underscored Ferrari’s progress since the French Grand Prix where the team’s race was undermined by the SF21’s front tyre degradation issues that now seem well under control.
“We keep improving, we keep being strong in the corners, we improved a little bit the tyre management this weekend. We nailed the strategy two weekends in a row.
“P6-P5, it’s starting to be a bit more the Carlos that I want to be at Ferrari. We are starting to execute the races the way I want them to be executed.”
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