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‘We could have won this race’ – Sainz left frustrated after pit stop timing and penalty costs him in Miami

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Carlos Sainz Jr. from Spain is driving the (55) Scuderia Ferrari SF-24 Ferrari during the Formula 1

Carlos Sainz walked away from the Miami Grand Prix with a sense of what might have been on a day where nothing quite went right for the Spaniard. He crossed the line fourth, which became fifth after being handed a post-race time penalty – but felt he could have won the race, with one small tweak to his strategy.

Starting third, Sainz had a mega getaway and was well placed on the outside to make a run at race leader Max Verstappen having already nipped past his team mate Charles Leclerc. But after taking avoiding action when Sergio Perez’s Red Bull scythed straight across in front of him, Sainz dropped down to fourth.

That became second on the road when Verstappen and Charles Leclerc pitted early for their one and only stop, behind Oscar Piastri’s McLaren with eventual winner Lando Norris behind. But then came the next slice of bad luck – Ferrari calling Sainz in on the same lap as race leader Piastri, one lap before the Safety Car was called.

READ MORE: ‘I finally delivered for them’ – Norris pays tribute to McLaren after 'about time' debut F1 win in Miami

“I think today the thing is I did a really good start, I was P2 into Turn 1 and like they say in the old school days, Checo came like a torpedo and nearly took us all with him. We take avoiding action, and I lost the positions for that move,” Sainz said.

2024 Miami Grand Prix: Perez overshoots Turn 1 and almost hits Verstappen on the race start

“From there I had good pace as I said, if we could have extended for one more lap we could have won this race like Lando did, because we boxed just one lap before the Safety Car and we were ahead of Lando at the time so a bit frustrated there again.”

Sainz found himself fifth after the restart, still behind Piastri but with plenty of pace on the hard compound tyre. He tried for lap after lap to make a move on the Australian, seeing his chances of a podium disappearing up the road.

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Why Norris’s maiden win wasn’t just thanks to a lucky break with the Safety Car

The duo went wheel to wheel through Turn 17 more than once, with Sainz forced wide at one point in a move that irked him to the point he was telling his team Piastri should have let him through.

He felt he’d forced off the track and should be given the place, but there was nothing incoming from the stewards – so Sainz tried another move again in Turn 17, making contact with Piastri as he did so. He took the place and disappeared up the road, but it was too late to catch up to the podium places.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes leads

Sainz's battle with Piastri ultimately cost him the chance of a podium in Miami

And worse was to come when the stewards looked at the contact post-race and handed Sainz a time penalty, finding him to blame for the clash that ultimately cost Piastri a chance of points.

“Frustrated with the start, frustrated [with the Safety Car], frustrated with Oscar because he ran us off track and we had contact,” was Sainz’s conclusion afterwards. “And then I had to be aggressive to overtake because this weekend for some reason we were struggling to overtake. I send it into 17 and from there we had good pace until the end but it was just too late.

READ MORE: Leclerc reflects on Miami start incident with Perez as he admits Ferrari need to ‘catch up’ to McLaren after Norris victory

On his former team mate Norris taking his first victory, he said: “Congratulations to Lando, I'm truly happy for him! He deserved a win for a long time and today was his day. Looking at my race I would say the opposite, it wasn’t my day.”

Sainz claims ‘we would have won this race’ with one tweak to his strategy

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