RACE DEBRIEF

    A rare mid-race error from Carlos Sainz saw him plunge down the order at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, after he locked up at Turn 8 and was forced to take to the escape road. It was a mistake that left Sainz P8 at the chequered flag – and, as he told the media after the race, “very angry” with himself.

    Starting P5, Sainz had lost out on the opening lap to the hard charging Red Bull of Sergio Perez, dropping down to sixth. But after pitting at the end of Lap 10, Sainz’s out-lap saw him lock up on his hard tyres at Turn 8 and skate straight on into the run-off – with Sainz shouting in frustration over team radio after the error before apologising to his engineer.

    READ MORE: Leclerc says possible tree branch on track triggered start of fall from pole to P4 in Baku

    That mistake dropped him from 11th down to 15th, meaning Sainz had to fight his way past the likes of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi to get back into the points, eventually recovering to P8 as team mate and polesitter Charles Leclerc finished fourth.

    “At the moment I’m very angry with myself,” said Sainz after the race, “and with the fact that once again I didn’t manage to put a whole weekend together and suffered a lot [with] the tyres… Both at the Safety Car restart and the second start I was struggling to feel the front tyre. I was front locking a lot and it cost me a few positions today.”

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    Sainz had to fight his way back past Giovinazzi before finishing P8

    Asked to explain the Turn 8 lock-up in particular, Sainz said: “Basically when I left the pits on the hard, I was suddenly surprised by the lack of grip. We actually ran the hard in FP1… and the warm-up, probably because the track was a lot hotter, wasn’t as much of an issue. But when I left the pits on the hard I was a bit all over the place, and I was struggling a lot with front locking.

    “Into Turn 8 I misjudged the grip I had and probably lost a bit the concentration thinking about other things and just braked a tiny bit too late, too hard, which I meant I locked up two front tyres and I decided to take the escape road rather than crashing.

    READ MORE: How Red Bull's set-up choice paid off in Baku – and why Mercedes and the rest had no answer

    “I think I lost around 20, 25 seconds of race time, flat spotted my two front tyres and obviously I was really, really angry,” he added. “The recovery from there with the front tyres a bit flat spotted was good; I had the pace I was expecting to have and it was good.

    “But as I said, I locked the fronts at Turn 2 in both of the starts and then I locked the fronts at Turn 8 with the hard tyres, so it’s definitely a weakness that I need to address, part of my patience with the car and trying to make me feel a bit more comfortable in these front tyre conditions, see how I can get better at it and see how I can mitigate it.”

    Carlos Sainz: This 'hasn't been my greatest of days'

    Despite Sainz’s frustrations, there were still plenty of positives for Ferrari to take from Baku, having surprised even themselves by showing pole position-claiming pace – although it was Yuki Tsunoda and Sainz’s crashes at the tail end of Q3 which ensured Leclerc's pole – while the Scuderia duo’s race result saw the team move ahead of McLaren to P3 in the constructors’ standings.

    READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Azerbaijan – Who shone on the streets of Baku?

    And Sainz was attempting to look on the bright side at the end of his Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, telling the media: “Obviously the pace hasn’t been an issue. The pace has been strong all weekend and the race pace, although it was a little behind the Mercedes and the Red Bull, it was still strong. So I still take the positives, that the pace itself in the car is very good.

    “But I need to improve… with the cold feeling in the tyre, with the front locking and that will help me to put a full weekend together. And I’m sure for the next race, once we analyse that, I will come back stronger and more confident.”