'We got it wrong when it counted' – Sainz regrets loss of ‘easy P5’ in Styrian Grand Prix
Despite starting in the same P3 position as his team mate did seven days previously, Carlos Sainz was unable to replicate Lando Norris’ podium from last weekend in the Styrian Grand Prix, with the Spaniard winding up a frustrated ninth by the flag.
Sainz had shown strong pace in the early part of the race, passed by the faster cars of Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes and Alex Albon in the Red Bull, but able to comfortably head the ‘best of the rest’ pack in fifth.
But his race came undone thanks to a sticking left-rear wheel nut during his pit stop, the delay seeing him re-join in traffic, as he enjoyed a brief but fruitless fight with the Racing Point of Sergio Perez before eventually finishing ninth, as Norris once again grabbed the headlines with a late surge to fifth, ahead of Perez and his Racing Point team mate Lance Stroll.
And even a bonus point for fastest lap – thanks to a late second stop for softs – couldn’t lighten Sainz’s mood at the end of the Styrian Grand Prix. “I’m not interested in fastest lap, although I got it in the end,” said Sainz on Sunday evening.
“It shows that the pace in the car today was there. It was just unfortunate that we got it wrong when it counted… I guess we just didn’t have our day in terms of strategy, pit stops and everything.
“We exited after the pit stop in a lot of traffic; trying to overtake all that traffic and trying to overtake the Racing Points I destroyed my tyres. It was a very long race form there, and I could not really do much.”
McLaren had spoken ahead of the race of how difficult they expected it to be to fight with the Racing Points. But Sainz felt that, with his superior starting position – the best of his career – and with Stroll beginning the race in P12 and Perez in 17th, he should have claimed the fifth place that Norris eventually did.
“The Racing Points today, with a normal race we should have been able to stay ahead the whole race with a good pit stop and well-executed race,” said Sainz. “We just didn’t do it, so it meant they got ahead of us after the pit stops and then we couldn’t really fight them.
“It is what it is, I can’t really say much but it should have been an easy P5 today for me after controlling the midfield in the first stint.”
Sainz’s performances from the first two races of the season (he finished fifth at last week’s Austrian Grand Prix) mean he sits seventh in the drivers’ standings on 13 points, with Norris riding high in third on 26.