Sainz relished 'bonkers' German GP to take season's-best fifth
"Bonkers." That's how Carlos Sainz described the German Grand Prix as he ran as low as 14th after a spin at the penultimate corner, but as high as fifth with a sniff at a podium as the dramatic rain-hit race reached its conclusion...
There were four Safety Cars, two VSCs, 78 total pit stops and a number of other anomalies at Hockenheim, making the German race one of the most exciting in F1's recent history.
Sainz was running a comfortable eighth when, like many of his rivals, he got caught out by the slippery conditions at Turn 16. Fortunately, he avoided damaging the car but he dropped six places to 14th. From there, good strategy hauled him back into the points and he had a chance of a podium in the closing stages before taking the chequered flag in fifth.
“It’s bonkers,” he said. “It was a crazy race but it was great fun. These kind of conditions are exactly where I enjoy the most out of racing. We were in the right tyre at the right time pretty much the whole race, we took the best decisions that we could take, we were as quick as a Ferrari in the wet, and we were as quick as a Mercedes with a slick in damp conditions. So everything went perfect except for the spin, which I take the blame obviously.”
Sainz reckoned a pit stop during the lap 41-45 Safety Car (for Nico Hulkenberg’s crash) would have reaped rewards. Kvyat and Stroll did just that, pitting for slicks during the intervention but Sainz points out they were towards the back of the field and had less to lose that
“We were in the best position out of all the midfield, we were leading the midfield, and stopping for slicks [during the third Safety Car intervention] was probably a very risky decision.
“The ones that had nothing to lose that were the ones at the back pitted for slicks and now they are on the podium, but we were in P5 at that point and it was very high risk/reward situation that the team, in the end, decided not to take.”
In fact, Sainz pitted just three times – fewer than any other driver who finished, and nursed a set of used soft tyres from lap 46-64. Kvyat and Stroll were in his sights, but was it possible for him to get on the podium?
“No, look,” he said. “I was on a very used soft from qualifying, it actually had two or three laps on it. I knew that those guys were on the new soft and on Friday they had same or better pace than me.
“Those two guys were the guys who had nothing to lose during the safety car that pitted for the slick… and in the end I finished third of the ones that didn’t pit which is nearly a podium, but in the end, P5.”
But hindsight is 20/20, and Sainz accepted that. He said “it’s very easy to say now. I think that is very easy to say in hindsight, but in the end it was a good day.”
As he looks to the Hungarian Grand Prix, Sainz will be encouraged by the fact that he’s taken four consecutive points finishes with his best performance of the season at Hockenheim. The McLaren driver now sits seventh in the drivers’ standings, just seven points adrift of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly.