McLaren’s Carlos Sainz says his F1 Brazil GP charge from the back of the grid is his best till date as teammate Lando Norris laments hard tyre stint for loss of pace.
McLaren’s Brazil GP was made up of champagne and tears, with a contrast between the podium-finishing Sainz and Norris, who came eighth. The former of the two was thrilled, after a last place start saw him rise up through the field on the one-stop strategy.
“It allowed Sainz to profit on the calamities at the front of the grid, and putting him in a good position at each safety car re-start. The Spaniard eventually crossed the line fourth, but was promoted to third after Mercedes Lewis Hamilton’s penalty.
Even though Sainz didn’t get to celebrate his maiden F1 podium initially but the whole team got together atop to create an ever-lasting memory. The Spaniard was particularly proud of his effort after coming through from last to third.
“It was dry, people were between one and two stops,” said Sainz. “We committed to a one stop. I had to make moves on the first few laps and I did them. There was a move on Perez especially that was really-really good and from then on the tyre management kicked in
“I managed to extend on the soft. Then the management on the medium kicked in. I had to pass Stroll and also teammate Norris as all of a sudden I found myself in eighth. We then had to decide to either pit or not and we decided not to.
“For once we took a bit of a gamble and this time it paid off. The two SC re-starts were probably the most difficult restarts of my life. The one-stop was a gamble as first I had to pass Grosjean, which was our main target because he was on a similar strategy.
“And I did, and from then on defend from Kimi. The last safety car really put us under even more risk because I had Kimi at bay for four laps before the last safety car. We just managed it well, but it was a race on full-attack mode.
“Every move from the first 10 laps when I overtook five or six cars into Turn 1, it was aggressive. The result was even more special due to Interlagos’ characteristics, which doesn’t suits the 2019 McLaren F1 car.
“This feels more special than Austria because on Friday I was one of the slowest of the midfield,” said Sainz. “We did a few changes for qualifying that for sure would have allowed us to be in Q3, but I wasn’t very confident this morning.
“I thought I was going to have a boring race. I always keep it optimistic but I thought I was going to have a boring race, but the pace just clicked along. We were super, super, super fast and for once after a few difficult races with tyre management but we were on it.”
As mentioned above, the mood was slightly less cheery for Norris after his two-stop strategy wasn’t so kind to him, with the hard tyres – although a different set than Mexico – seriously hampering his pace in the middle stages of the race.
Even still, the young Brit was happy for the team and Sainz. “A good race for the team and me as I had a really good launch off the line and was up to P5 after the first few corners,” said Norris. “We’re doing a good job in this respect and it’s a good strength of ours.
“The rest of the race was tough, especially the first stint on the softs. I struggled a lot compared to Daniel [Ricciardo] in the later laps with the tyres, which we kind of expected. We then did the hard tyre stint and was close to getting Daniel after the stop.
“I tried to look after the tyres. He wasn’t pushing too much, so I was trying to push, and see if he made any mistake where I could get past him. But he didn’t and was just controlling the pace. We decided to box for mediums and go for the two-stop.
“It turned out to be really good after the struggle on the hard tyre. It was a fun race, nevertheless, at least in the third stint, with some overtaking.” There was also a bit of a team play as Norris allowed Sainz to be passed at ease due to the former’s struggles.
The podium result eventually sealed fourth for McLaren in the F1 constructors’ championship with Renault having no chance to topple even if they finish a 1-2 with a bonus point for the fastest lap during the Abu Dhabi GP.
Here’s what happened to Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari drivers
Carlos Sainz gets promoted to podium after being cleared of DRS issue
Ferrari drivers and Mattia Binotto react to the incident
Pierre Gasly enjoyed the brief tussle against Lewis Hamilton in Brazil
Alfa Romeo drivers react to a fruitful Brazil GP
Here’s what Ross Brawn had to say on multiple topics
Lance Stroll was affected by the Ferrari clash
Mercedes admits of getting their strategy wrong while Red Bull got theirs right
Daniel Ricciardo took blame for his clash with Kevin Magnussen
Alexander Albon is not blaming Lewis Hamilton for their clash
This story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani