Sainz: "It really looked like it was going wrong!'

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz admitted that he felt his chances in the Russian Grand Prix were slipping away... The post Sainz: "It really looked like it was going wrong!' appeared first on F1i.com.

Sainz: "It really looked like it was going wrong!'

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz admitted that he felt his chances in the Russian Grand Prix were slipping away from him when it all started going wrong during the opening stint.

Sainz had narrowly missed out on taking pole position in qualifying on Saturday but started alongside his former McLaren team mate Lando Norris on the front row for Sunday's race in Sochi.

He got the better launch and managed to take the lead from Norris through the opening corners, which he held for the first 12 laps. "We made a perfect start from the dirty side, braking late into turn 2 and risking it on the outside of Lando to get into the lead.

But after pulling out a comfortable lead, Sainz then suffered from excessive graining on his medium tyres. After the McLaren blasted past him on the back straight to retake the lead, Sainz headed to pit lane for a new set of hard tyres.

"Unfortunately we suffered from graining and couldn’t hold P1 for much longer and had to pit early," he told the media after the finish, adding that the ease with which Norris had passed him was also a concern.

"We need to keep analysing and keep seeing what we can do better with tyres, with fuel, with the top speed," he said. "[We need] to make sure that the next time a Ferrari is leading a Grand Prix we do not get overtaken as easily as it happened today.

"As a team we need to keep analysing what we can do better," he insisted. "We’ve got some time before the next race, so we will keep pushing."

Sainz said that at this stage of the race it looked like his chances of a strong result were out of reach. "At some point in the race it really looked like it was going wrong," he admitted. "At some point I thought podium wasn’t happening.

“After suffering so much graining with the medium tyre. After leading the race quite comfortably for the first seven, eight laps, and facing so much degradation and losing the position to Lando, and being one of the first ones to pit, and getting in the queue behind Valtteri and suffering in all that traffic...

However, he bided his time and once the other drivers had made their own stops Sainz was back up to third place, now running behind Norris and Lewis Hamilton.

"We did very good stint management on the hard behind the traffic and then we managed to push," Sainz said. "We were on course for a reasonably comfortable P3 before the rain came and made everything a lot trickier."

Sainz said the decision to pit for intermediate tyres when the rain intensified had been crucial to the ultimate outcome.

"With the used hard it was clear to me we needed to box for inters and together with the team we made the right decision at the right moment.

"We made exactly the right decision at the right time," he said. "[I] nearly lost the car two or three times, so [the pit wall] did the call to come in for inters just to make sure we made it to the end.

“In the end we decided to go for inters in the fast four laps and it worked out beautifully, and we ended up third," he continued.

"Good calls, good management - just a bit more obstacles than I was expecting after leading into turn 2!," he said. "It’s a happy podium."

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-21 makes a pit stop. 26.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Russian Grand Prix, Sochi Autodrom, Sochi

Unfortunately his team mate Charles Leclerc didn't have such a happy ending to his day. The Monegasque started the race from the back row and was up in the top five when the rain started. Unlike Sainz he stayed out too long on the slick tyres and ended up dropping to 15th.

"What a disappointing end to an otherwise extremely positive race," he sighed. "Carlos was ahead and decided to pit for Inters, while I still had some doubts. I tried to do another lap on slicks.

"[I was] hoping that the rain would decrease but it started pouring down and it was just impossible to go on without pitting with two laps to go. That was basically the end of my race, which is a real shame."

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Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium

Fernando Alonso delivered another solid bag of points to Alpine in the Russian Grand Prix but rued the... The post Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium appeared first on F1i.com.

Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium

Fernando Alonso delivered another solid bag of points to Alpine in the Russian Grand Prix but rued the late rain shower that disrupted the race, insisting his driving and his team's flawless execution were worthy of a podium in Sochi.

After launching his race from P6, Alonso lost a few spots in the opening laps of Sunday's race before moving back up the harder while banking on a long first sting on the hard compound tyre.

The Spaniard had progressed all the way up into second place after 35 laps when he switched to the medium rubber for his planned final stint.

As the race entered its closing stages, Alonso overhauled on the road Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez to push himself up to third. But as the rain set in and conditions worsened, the Alpine charger had no other choice but to follow his rivals and pit for a set of intermediates.

The final few laps left Alonso P6 in the running order and ruing his lack of luck.

"I think we should be on the podium today in terms of executing the race and driving," said the two-time world champion who felt that he had been as unlucky as long-lasting race leader Lando Norris.

"We were in front of Verstappen, we were pulling away from him, we were in front of Sainz. Norris did an amazing race. And just by luck, he’s not on the podium or his first ever win in Formula 1.

"When it rains it’s just a very lucky factor. And I’m sad because when we are not competitive and we are P11 or P12, it never rains so we never get lucky. And today we are P3, today it just rained.

"So not sad but definitely we are not very lucky."

Alonso, who scored in Russia his eleventh top-ten finish of the season, nevertheless took solace from the fact that every point Alpine has scored this year was "on merit and deserved".

"We never had any presents," he said. "We never had any gifts, today or this year. So I am proud of every point that I took this year."

  • Read also: Wolff explains why Mercedes pit wall overruled Hamilton

Assessing Alpine's season year-to-date, the 40-year-old F1 veteran underlined how the French outfit is extracting the most from its A521 contender to achieve some remarkable results.

"Some weekends we look a little bit less competitive, like Monza, both cars in the points," he said. "Some weekends we look more competitive like Zandvoort or here in Sochi and we finish top six.

"We could have even finished today on the podium. So there is something that we are doing good on the weekends and on Sundays, especially to score so many points with sometimes not the fastest car out there.

"So I’m very proud of the team, of the progress. We are working towards a very strong team and looking for next year hopefully the package is competitive out of the factory, but the team here at the race weekend is ready to fight."

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