Can Carlos Sainz follow up his first Formula 1 pole on Sunday with his first win? For the first time in his career, the Ferrari driver will be the leader in a Formula 1 race at Silverstone, but he knows that victory in the race is likely to be a completely different matter. Because behind him starts strong competition with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“Leading a formation lap in a Ferrari will feel great,” says Sainz. “I don’t think I’ve forgotten since I last led a formation lap at Renault in the World Series.” However, that was eight years ago.
But the self-confidence to make it in Formula 1 on Sunday is great. But the question is: Can the Ferrari do it too? Because despite the strong pace on Saturdays, Ferrari was not able to implement it in the race. The Scuderia has been waiting for a win since the third race of the season in Australia. Most recently, Red Bull struck six times in a row.
However, Carlos Sainz was the quickest in Friday’s dry practice session. “The pace was there and I felt comfortable in the car and managed well with the tires,” he says to himself. “If the feeling is like the second practice session then I’m confident that I can hold the lead and do my own race.”
“But if the balance is like in the third training session, then it could be a little more difficult,” says the Spaniard. Sainz was only sixth there, while the two Red Bulls dominated at the front. “But we made some changes because we had some problems that we didn’t expect. We just don’t know if we solved them completely.”
But even if Ferrari puts in a good car, behind Sainz a possibly even faster Red Bull is pushing for their sixth win in seven races. “It’s true that Red Bull is always as fast as we are. Sometimes they’re faster, sometimes a tenth slower,” he says. “In the end, the races where it was close were always won by details.”
“So we have to focus on getting the details right with the strategy, the tires and the management,” continued the Ferrari driver. “And if we can get those things right and have a good position on the track then we should try to stay in front. I think we can beat the Red Bull together.”
A repetition of the duel in Canada, where Sainz tried to win Max Verstappen in the final phase, may be in the offing. Sainz would like the opposite result this time, but Verstappen should be lurking for every little weakness.
Despite second place, the Dutchman is going into the race with enormous self-confidence: “The car was very good in the third practice session and it’s obviously important that you find the right balance. But there’s a question mark on Sunday because the track is so wet because of the rain should be quite green. The question is how long the tires will last, but I’m confident that our cars should be fast.”
Leclerc also speculates on victory
Tire management has always been a Red Bull strength this season, giving them an advantage on Sunday, but third-placed Leclerc believes it hasn’t really been a big issue from a Ferrari perspective in recent races. “But of course we couldn’t show that because we always had a few problems. But hopefully tomorrow (Sunday; editor’s note) will be the day.”
Of course, the Monegasque is also dreaming of the victory he almost clinched last year before he was intercepted by Lewis Hamilton just before the end of the race. He really likes Silverstone, where he’s been consistently on the podium for the past three years.
“I think the pace is there,” he encourages himself. “If we have a clean race then everything should go well.” He is curious about the strategy, which according to him is exactly between one and two stops. “It will be interesting to see who makes one stop and who makes two. Hopefully we make the right decision and can get back to where we want to be.”
Team tactics at Ferrari?
Before the Grand Prix, however, the question of team tactics at Ferrari arises. Leclerc could help Sainz win his first Grand Prix, on the other hand Monegasque has better chances in the World Cup. But that’s just 24 points in Leclerc’s favor with 354 points still to be awarded.
“Of course I would be happy if Carlos won the race,” says Leclerc, “but I will not deny that I also want to win.” For him, the main thing is that Ferrari get a one-two, no matter in what order. “And if we can make strategic maneuvers between the cars, we will certainly do that. But let’s see how it goes.”
“I think we’ll work together as a team like we’ve done all season,” said Sainz. “I’m pretty sure we’ll both have a good fight with Max – and of course we mustn’t forget that Checo (Sergio Perez; editor’s note) will also attack.”
Verstappen: No other approach
“Both Red Bulls were very quick in the third practice session, but if we work together like we’ve done all year, then we can achieve a one-two. That’s the main goal,” said Sainz.
And Verstappen? In view of the 49-point lead over the first non-Red Bull in the World Cup, he could theoretically take a more conservative approach. But that’s actually not Verstappen-like. “Of course, the goal is always to score as many points as possible. That’s how I’ve approached every race so far,” says the Dutchman.
“I see no reason why it should suddenly be different in this race. And if I have an opportunity, then I will use it. That’s how it works in Formula 1,” says Verstappen. “There are still so many races where you have to score a lot of points if you want to have a chance of winning the championship.”