Fan-boosted, fighting drive sees Sainz maintain perfect home record
For much of the race it looked unlikely, but a never-say-die attitude – combined with strong local support and a little help from the safety car – meant McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was able to finish eighth in Barcelona on Sunday, and maintain his record of always scoring points in his home Grand Prix.
After a somewhat disappointing qualifying had left him 12th on the grid, Sainz always knew he faced a tough Sunday afternoon, but some slick team strategy and some gutsy passing moves helped him net his fifth consecutive top-ten result in Spain.
“One of those strange races,” said Sainz. “Basically I had no feeling in the car and I was struggling in the last sector with the rear end.
“Ricciardo was miles quicker – we were 11th and fighting for 12th with him – but somehow we managed to overtake him back. Then the Safety Car comes out, we use the red tyre to overtake two or three people and we are eighth.
“So basically a well-executed race, well-executed strategy and overtaking just in the right place at the right moment!”
Sainz’s race almost came unstuck near the end, however. Having benefitted from the Haas drivers coming together at the re-start – following the safety-car period needed after team mate Lando Norris crashed out – he then nearly collided with a rival too.
He did in fact make contact with Romain Grosjean as he tried to pass the Haas at Turn 1 on Lap 57. Mercifully both drivers were able to continue, though, with Sainz going on to pull off the same move successfully a lap later.
“I saw them fighting a lot, pieces of Haas cars going all over the track. Before that I passed Kvyat at the re-start and saw them fighting, but they were miles quicker than me so I just wanted to hang on in there to have DRS chance
“I knew we had very good top speed, so the moment I had a DRS I was just closing on Grosjean a lot and we collided in Turn 1. So I had to try again the next lap and then I made it stick.”
As well as his team, Sainz also paid tribute to his fans for their role in his charging drive that saw him take away four points from his home event, upping his season tally to 10.
“Today is one of those days I feel I was a bit more aggressive than usual and that's because of that crowd, those people, knowing you need to do well.
“I was struggling all race with no pace, but somehow I found that little bit extra to score that eighth place that honestly wasn't on the cards midway through the race.”