On the 151st attempt, Carlos Sainz broke the curse and clinched his first pole position in Formula 1. In the rain at Silverstone he beat Max Verstappen and his teammate Charles Leclerc and was surprised himself.
“My lap wasn’t really anything special,” he says. But because Leclerc of all people messed up his own lap and that of Verstappen with a spin, it was enough.
Verstappen was on his way to his third pole position of the season and was already 0.643 seconds ahead of Sainz after the first sector, but the Red Bull driver got a yellow flag in the second sector and was unable to improve his time enough to save Sainz yet to oust from the pole.
Curious: Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc, of all people, had spun in the Chapel curve and thus involuntarily performed teamwork. According to him, there was simply a lot of standing water at this point.
“I’m happy for Carlos, but unfortunately I made a mistake on my last lap,” said Leclerc. “I knew that I had to put everything together on exactly this lap, but I couldn’t do that as a driver and therefore I didn’t deserve pole.”
Sainz blind to pole
Sainz had no idea about any of this at the time. “I didn’t know where I would qualify,” says the Spaniard. “Conditions kept changing and I didn’t know what lap time I had to beat.”
“There are no two laps in which the conditions are like the lap before. Every lap is a new adventure,” says the Ferrari driver and therefore found qualifying difficult. “Especially in Q3 I found it hard to get a lap together. There was a lot of standing water on the racing line and it was quite difficult to get the tires up to temperature.”
It was kind of a gamble for him and he just wanted to do a few quick laps at the end and see what came of it. The last lap of 1:40.983 minutes was the decisive one, but Sainz didn’t think it was good: “It didn’t feel fantastic,” he admits.
Lots of little things – and it all fits!
Because on the lap there were a lot of little things that didn’t add up: “I made a small mistake in turn 3, which caused me to be a little off the line in turn 4,” Sainz describes. “And in turn 15 and 16 I ran out of battery.”
Given the circumstances, Sainz was convinced it wouldn’t be enough for pole position. “But it was enough,” he says. Because Leclerc and Verstappen stayed in their positions after Leclerc’s spin, and Sergio Pérez & Co. just weren’t fast enough.
When the news came over the radio that he had won first place for the first time in his career, he was surprised but happy: “Of course I was happy to hear that,” says Sainz. “The lap wasn’t perfect, but in these conditions it’s mostly about putting in a good lap.”
“To get the first pole is always something special. And to do it in the rain at Silverstone feels really good.”