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Formula 1 | Pace problem with Carlos Sainz: “Couldn’t push”

“If I’m based on Friday’s pace, we should easily have been first and second today,” said Carlos Sainz after the Formula 1 race in Hungary.

But the strong pace in training was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. Instead, the Reds were relegated to fourth and sixth.

“Today it was a struggle every lap. I had absolutely no balance in the car and couldn’t push because I got graining on the front tires,” he explains. “I had a lot of problems with the car and I’m not surprised that I finished fourth because the feeling in the car was really bad.”

While team-mate Charles Leclerc ended up being swept backwards after switching to hard tyres, it wasn’t a strategy problem for Sainz, but rather a pace problem. “Definitely for me,” he says. “You can compare my pace on softs to Lewis’s [Hamilton] compare and see that we’ve gone from significantly faster to slower.”

That’s why Sainz had to pit a little earlier because the front tires collapsed quite a bit on the mediums. “The pace wasn’t bad, but only about 15 laps and then the tire degraded,” said the Spaniard.

It suddenly stopped working when it was cold

“We have to analyze why the temperatures have influenced us so much today,” he also sees the much colder environment as a factor. On Friday it was more than 30 degrees on the track, on Sunday the thermometer just scratched the 20 degree mark.

“On Friday I was able to go full throttle and didn’t have any tire degradation, and today I couldn’t push and had a huge degradation at the front,” he marvels. “For me it was the temperatures that brought about a change in performance that I didn’t expect.”

In contrast to Leclerc, Sainz has nothing else to complain about in his strategy. He had also done two stints on medium tires but didn’t follow the same path as his teammate and avoided the hards that turned out to be mistakes. Instead, he stayed longer on the mediums, picking up softs for the final 23 rounds.

Missed stop costs possible lead

What was surprising, however, was that Sainz came to the first stop after just 17 laps – just one lap later than Max Verstappen and George Russell, who had started with softs. But while Leclerc would have liked to stay longer on the mediums, Sainz couldn’t: “I couldn’t have driven many more laps.”

In addition, Ferrari tried an overcut against Russell, which was prevented by a bad pit stop. “We would have made it without him,” Sainz believes and is annoyed about the botched tire change, because the second stop also took an unnecessarily long time.

“We had two bad stops and the first one probably cost us the lead. I think we could have led the race and then everything becomes easier because you don’t have dirty air,” said Sainz. “But it is what it is. The pace wasn’t great and neither was the feeling in the car.”

Piece of plastic caught in car

Side note: After the race, Sainz found a piece of plastic on the side of his car – suspected junk.

“I don’t know if it cost me downforce because it was a pretty big piece of plastic,” said the Spaniard.

But that shouldn’t be the big explanation for the significant loss of pace within two days. “We have to analyze how on Friday we can go from a lead of half a second at race pace to everyone else and from full throttle with the tires to a sudden, greater decrease at 30 degrees less track temperature and no longer have a lead,” says Sainz.

“For me, that was definitely something that we’ve lost at these temperatures.”

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