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Sainz thrilled with third place in Japan after making multiple overtakes during ‘tough’ race

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Third placed Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari celebrates on the podium

Carlos Sainz was left “very happy” with his podium result at the Japanese Grand Prix, having expected P3 to be “difficult” to achieve earlier in the race as he battled with the likes of Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

After starting from P4 and P8 on the grid respectively, Sainz and Leclerc ran split strategies during the event, with Sainz making two visits to the pits while Leclerc made a one-stop plan work.

READ MORE: Verstappen leads home Perez for Red Bull one-two at Japanese GP after early drama

While Sainz initially feared that his strategy might not be as effective, the Spaniard enjoyed a strong race in which he completed several overtakes – including a move on Leclerc in the latter stages to take the final spot on the rostrum.

With this following on from his win last time out in Australia, Sainz spoke positively about his performance at Suzuka after jumping out of the car.

“I had a good race to be honest,” he commented. “Very happy because it was quite tough out there with the degradation, but then suddenly the clouds came, the degradation went a lot lower, and suddenly I thought that maybe one-stop was quicker and we were on the two.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 makes a pitstop

Ferrari split their strategies in Japan, with Sainz making two pit stops during the race

“I had to overtake a lot of cars out there today, and yeah, overtaking was tricky. Always at Suzuka you really have to nail the last chicane to get a good run into Turn 1. I could finish my moves, but it was tough out there.”

Asked if he felt he could still perform those moves after emerging back on track from his second pit stop, Sainz responded: “Honestly I thought it was on, but I thought it was going to be very difficult to get back into the fourth or P3, [with] how tricky it was to overtake the Mercedes on the second stint, and how difficult it was to follow.

RACE START: Watch the getaway in Japan as Albon and Ricciardo crash brings out the red flags

“I knew I needed a very big delta to approach Lando and Charles, and in the end we managed. I was quick on that hard tyre, I really liked how the hard gave me a good feeling to push, and I could get the moves done and get that podium.”

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing,

Sainz has now stood on the podium at every race he has competed in during 2024

Attentions will soon turn to the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix, which will take place from April 19-21 as the event returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019. The weekend is also set to host the debut Sprint of 2024.

While Ferrari looked to be in good form in Japan, Sainz is expecting everybody to face challenges in Shanghai.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

“I think it’s going to be a tough weekend for everyone,” the 29-year-old said. “I think going into a Sprint, to a track that we haven’t been in four or five years, only one hour of practice, is going to be a challenge.

“It’s going to be a good one. Let’s get a couple of good weeks to keep training and keep recovering, and I’ll get back in China flat-out.”

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