Sainz says P2 in Monaco a ‘bittersweet feeling’ as he ‘genuinely thought we could win’
Carlos Sainz took his first Monaco podium and his first podium in the red of Ferrari in a tense race on Sunday, but the Ferrari driver said he had mixed feelings about finishing runner-up to Max Verstappen, given the race-winning pace he'd shown all weekend.
Sainz qualified fourth but started third as team mate Charles Leclerc suffered reliability issues before the race and dropped out. He then capitalised on Valtteri Bottas’s shock retirement to move up to P2 - a position he held to the flag, despite applying late pressure on Verstappen.
Remarking on his mixed feelings after the race, he began: “It’s a good feeling of course today. In particular with starting [P3] but to finish P2 is a good result as I think the team deserves to at least get a podium this weekend, but the bittersweet feeling is still there.
“You know, the bittersweet feeling is still there because I had the pace to put it on pole or at least to win this weekend and the fact that in the end we didn’t quite manage, is not great. And of course, I feel for Charles, I feel for the team that didn’t manage to start today from pole. It’s a strange day, but from a personal level I have to be happy with P2 because it’s the maximum that we could have achieved today.”
Leclerc took pole in qualifying on Saturday but crashed on his final flying effort, preventing others from beating his benchmark and leading to doubts that he would start the race in pole due to the ensuing damage. Those doubts were realised when, on the warm-up lap on Sunday, Leclerc pulled into the garage with a broken driveshaft.
Sainz continued to explain that he was dreaming of a Monaco win even before his shot at pole was cut short by Leclerc’s session-ending crash, as he capped off a Ferrari one-two in FP2 on Thursday.
“If you would have told me on Wednesday that I would not be 100% happy about P2, I would have not believed it to be honest, because we are not normally fighting for this position this year,” he said.
“But then after the pace on Thursday, I genuinely thought we could win because I was so confident with the car and I was so fast today, and on Saturday morning and through qualifying, that I genuinely felt like ‘OK, I can put it on pole and win my first ever Grand Prix in Monaco’.” he added.
Sainz is the 58th driver to score an F1 podium for Ferrari, with the rostrum helping move Ferrari just two points behind McLaren as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix beckons on June 4-6.