Carlos Sainz speaks on F1 Abu Dhabi GP podium and ending on a high with Ferrari as Andreas Seidl adds on McLaren’s missed chances.

For Ferrari’s Sainz, it was an impressive and strong finish to the season in F1 Abu Dhabi GP. Following on from a disappointment and frustrating weekend in Saudi Arabia, he had a strong weekend in practice, qualifying and the race itself at Yas Marina.

A podium thus followed, his fourth for 2021 and a nice way of finishing his debut season with the Maranello concern. Sainz himself was happy with the weekend and how positive it went, even though he agreed that the podium wouldn’t be remembered due to what happened in front of him.

“I was very strong in the race,” said Sainz. “From qualifying, that I did a good lap and going into the race already on the laps to the grid the car felt really good and I could put together a strong first stint, a strong stint on the Hard. With the Safety Car at the end the nerves were high but we managed to keep it together and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Continuing with Sainz’s podium and strong showing, the Spaniard felt he left the best to last with his drive in Abu Dhabi. A challenging season but Ferrari improved greatly on 2020. Some questions were raised when Sainz joined from McLaren and there was risk involved but overall it appears to have been the right choice.

“It’s truly a great way to end a very positive first year in Ferrari for me,” said Sainz. “A very challenging year but in the end, it turned out to be a very strong one. A year that I’m quite proud of and yeah, to finish it with a podium that probably no-one will remember – I’ll add it to the collection – because of whatever was happening in front. But yeah, I enjoyed it a lot and put together everything that I have learned through this first year to put probably my strongest race in Ferrari together.”

Speaking of McLaren, their own season which was strong has somewhat gone flat over the last while since their win at Monza and “almost” being in sight of another win at Sochi.  Lando Norris has had a disappointing finish to the season with a run of poor Sundays.

A strong qualifying in Abu Dhabi in third saw a poor start. A poorish race saw him pit with 10 laps left as the crew determined a slow puncture, different to Qatar. A good recovery drive saw him pick up 6 points for seventh after a crazy finish.

The results also helped Ferrari seal third place in the standings over McLaren by a healthy margin. While Norris did finish ahead of Leclerc (160 to 159), both drivers finished behind Sainz overall as the Spaniard beat his old and new teammate straight up.

At the start of the weekend, fifth overall would have been his target for Norris, especially after running as high as third in the first half of 2021. Team boss Seidl expands on what happened with the Brit in the race while answering on query about the puncture if it was similar to Qatar.

“We were in a good position to score this P5 in the drivers’ championship,” said Seidl. “Because we were close enough to Carlos, and there was no need to try more, because it was a tricky race in terms of tyre management as well. Charles was losing more than four points to Lando, and therefore we were in a good position.

“And then he had an unlucky puncture, there was nothing we could do. That’s why we stayed in P6 in the drivers’ championship. We have overtaken Charles, but Carlos had that big result. So unlucky. In Qatar it was a structural failure of the tyre due to the loads the car has seen with the kerbs.

“So a completely different issue compared to what we have seen in Abu Dhabi, it was a slow puncture. Where we need to see now when we do the analysis together with Pirelli was it from running over debris, or something like that? It was not a structural issue, just bad luck,” summed up Seidl, who expanded on the troubles Daniel Ricciardo had, who ended up outside the points and a lap down.

“On Daniel’s side, I think we couldn’t show the pace because he was just stuck in the train behind I think Ocon for most of the race, which is the problem he’s time-to-time having in terms of the final position in qualifying, which puts him in a bad spot for Sunday,” said Seidl.

“Because as we know a Formula 1 race nowadays with these cars on tracks like here if you’re not a lot faster than the car in front of us it’s difficult to overtake and your race is pretty much done from the start. And with Daniel not being able to make up positions at the start or in the first lap, his race was pretty much done unfortunately.”

Throughout the season, the battle for third overall between the two legendary constructors was one which was closely fought. While Ferrari got the upper hand in the end, they are still winless since 2019 while McLaren gained their first win for a long time this year. 48.5 points was the gap between third and fourth overall. Both are headed in the right direction for 2022 as they aim to bridge the gap to Red Bull and Mercedes.

The story was written by Neil Farell

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