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"I thought podium wasn't possible," admits Sainz


Carlos Sainz admits that he feared a risky strategic gamble wasn't going to pay off in Japan, whilst insisting that he doesn't "have a clue" where he will be next season.

Starting fourth on the grid, at both starts the Spaniard was unable to make a move on Lando Norris. He eventually passed the McLaren when the Briton went for the undercut - stopping on Lap 11 - but dropped behind again when he finally made his first stop on Lap 15.

While his Ferrari teammate gambled on an extended opening stint, Sainz prolonged his second, on used mediums, and by the time he made his second stop was up to second - having led the race for one lap following Max Verstappen's stop.

Rejoning in seventh, Sainz took full advantage of his fresher hards and gradually worked his way back to fourth before passing his teammate seven laps from the end.

"I had a good race," he grinned at race end. "I knew the podium was possible if I did a perfect race. I'm very happy, because it was quite tough out there with the degradation.

"At times it looked a bit tricky," he admitted, "I didn't understand exactly what was going on with the one stops and two stops. Then the clouds came, the degradation went a lot lower, and suddenly I thought that maybe a one-stop was quicker, and we were on the two.

"I thought it was going to be very difficult to get back into fourth or P3 given how tricky it was to overtake the Mercedes on the second stint, and how difficult it was to follow. But when I put the hard on at the end I was very quick, flying out there, and I could get the moves done to get the podium I was really pushing for.

"I had to overtake a lot of cars out there today, and overtaking was tricky," he continued. "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. I knew I needed a very big delta to approach Lando and Charles. Honestly I thought it was on, that I could get the moves done and get that podium.

"In the end we managed," he smiled. "I was quick on that hard tyre, I really liked how it gave me a good feeling to push."

The podium finish promoting him to fourth in the standing, 4 points adrift of his teammate but with one less race to his credit, the Spaniard is yet to find a berth for next season.

"Unfortunately I have no clue where I'm going to be next year," he said. "It's true that we are talking to many teams. They know I'm available, so let's see what happens.

"It has been a strong start to the season," he added. "With this car you can shine a bit more. With last year's car I did performances similar to this year but you couldn't shine.

"I just need to keep focus on what I'm doing, and prove to myself and to everyone that when I'm given a fast car I am maximising what I'm given, and I deliver."

Meanwhile, teammate Leclerc, despite his brave opening stint, could only look on as Sainz swept by to claim the final spot on the podium, the Monegasque insists that there was nothing he could have done better today.

"Looking just at today's race I'm quite happy, because there is nothing that we could have done better," he said. "Our pace, tyre management, communication and strategy were all really good."

Nonetheless, but for a disappointing performance in qualifying it could have been even better.

"Qualifying has always gone well for me, but for the past two races I've struggled," he admitted. "We've had some difficulties putting the tyres in the right window on the out laps in qualifying.

"It's something we never struggled with before," he added. "Normally it's pretty good on the Saturday. I'm paying the price for this both in Australia and here, but the pace in the race is there.

"I feel stupid to say I was happy with my qualifying lap and then finish eighth, because I'm not like that," he continued. "The lap is good, but the grip of the tyre doesn't give you what you expect.

"Whether it's in Australia or here, race pace has not been a problem. It's my qualifying pace, which is not something that I've not been very used to in my career to be working on my qualifying pace.

"My main focus going into Shanghai, is to try and re-find the right window of the tyres and for me to put them more consistently inside that window, to make sure we can put it all together in China," he said. "There are these small differences in the out lap and I have to work on this.

"We've got a week before Shanghai," he insisted, "so I have to focus on it, but every time I've worked on something it's improved quite quickly so I'm not too worried."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Suzuka here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 10/04/2024 1:13

"@ Chester...Sainz put in a great drive. He's always good value and ,like Charles, he's a very likeable chap as well. Getting a good result was a joyous occasion, as for chants of 'sainz...' may be stretching it a bit but what I like about Ferrari is the passion they bring to the circus. No other team sings along to their national anthem with such gusto and verve! Gets the juices flowing when they win... real spirit, something lacking in many other teams. Chaos and fun, it's the Italian way."

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2. Posted by Chester, 08/04/2024 12:19

"The situation has made me a Sainz fan. I am hoping to hear slow chants of "Sainz, Sainz, Sainz" at race tracks kind of like the chants of "Jonathon, Jonathon, Jonathon" in Rollerball long ago.

Can't keep Sainz down. "

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3. Posted by stoney, 07/04/2024 21:07

"Could Ferrari strategy have played a true to form blinder by replacing Carlos Sainz, the only driver to win the a race (twice) while not driving a Red Bull since George Russell in Brazil in 2022, with Lewis Hamilton, who has been beaten by his team mate on all occasions this year (when not retiring)?

Let's see how the season unfolds..."

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