Carlos Sainz: ‘We’ve Made Progress On Strategy’

Carlos Sainz: 'We've Made Progress On Strategy'
Carlos Sainz: 'We've Made Progress On Strategy'

Carlos Sainz has claimed another podium, this time finishing third at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix. For a driver without a team for 2025, Sainz stock is rising with every race, and the Spaniard is performing at the peak of his powers.

Also gaining strength is the Ferrari team, who for many years have struggled due to poor execution and bad strategy calls. However, the Maranello outfit appears to have turned the corner…

‘I think we’ve made progress on strategy over the last three years, progressively, but if you see a jump this year on strategy, it’s purely down to the car. I think just having a car that allows you to have flexibility on strategy is something that last year we couldn’t have. So, we were boxed in to stop at certain laps. We couldn’t extend. We had so much deg that it looked always like people could extend and then come back on us on a harder tyre. Last year, we were just zero flexible and we couldn’t do anything without racing. So it looked like we were not getting the strategy right a lot of times. But when you have a car that is better on tyres, two drivers that can push on the car more often and you have that extra flexibility, your strategy also looks better. And with this, I’m not underestimating the progress we’ve done. It’s just I really think this helps a lot.

‘And yeah, people also might think, you know, I’m in a better moment driving and everything, but the reality is just in Formula 1, a car is very important. also, you know, having a good car. And also this year, I’m in a very good moment. I’m driving at a high level, but at the same time, having a car that just allows you to go a bit longer, allows you to be a bit closer in dirty air and play around a bit more with strategy, just allows you to shine a bit more, you know, and that’s why it’s important in the career of a driver also to be in a car, because last year in the races we looked like we were always going backwards, always defending. We were terrible with tyre management and that was difficult to do good races. This year, suddenly three races, two podiums, a lot of overtaking, a win. It’s a completely different picture. It shows that in this sport that is very important too,’ said Sainz.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024

After missing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to surgery, Sainz bounced back to win in Australia. His third-place finish in Suzuka meant more champagne for the Spaniard who has returned to form with a bang.

‘I had a good race, to be honest. Very happy, because it was quite tough out there with the degradation, but then suddenly the clouds came, the degradation went a lot lower, and suddenly I thought that, yeah, maybe one stop was quicker and we were on the two. I had to overtake a lot of cars out there today and, yeah, overtaking was tricky. Like always at Suzuka, you really need to nail the last chicane to get a good run into Turn 1. I could finish my moves, but it was tough out there.’

‘I thought it was going to be very difficult to get back into the fourth or P3. How tricky it was to overtake the Mercedes on the second stint and how difficult it was to follow? I knew I needed a very big delta to approach Lando and Charles, and in the end, we managed. I was quick on that Hard tyre. I really liked how the Hard gave me a good feeling to push. And I could, yeah, get the moves done and get that podium.’

We kind of knew our race pace was better than our qualifying pace. Still probably not enough to go for a win because obviously starting P4 and given how good the race pace of the Red Bull is, it’s almost impossible to think about a win, but I was hopeful of achieving a podium that in the end we managed to achieve, even if it was a very tough race, very strategic. The track condition changed a lot through the race. We went from a very sunny track that we hadn’t had all weekend to a very cloudy track. The degradation went down a lot and you could push a lot more on the tyres halfway through the race. And yeah, this changed the whole situation quite a lot. At one point, I thought the podium wasn’t possible, but then with a new Hard, the pace was mega and I could get back onto the podium.’

F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024

Looking ahead, while pleased with his efforts, Sainz feels that catching Max Verstappen for the championship could be a bridge too far.

‘I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently, but by that time maybe it’s a bit too late with the advantage that they might have on the championship. In the meantime, we need more Australias! Which I don’t see Red Bull, as a team, making these mistakes very often, no. A shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship. We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, We’re going to give it our best shot. It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so yeah, nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.’

Up next is China, which will be a tough race for everyone after not racing in Shanghai for five years, but it is a challenge the Smooth Operator is looking forward to.

‘I think it’s going to be a tough weekend for everyone. I think going into a Sprint to a track that we haven’t been in four or five years, only one hour of practice, is going to be a challenge. Might be resurfaced also, so it’s going to be a good one. Yeah, let’s get a couple good weeks to keep training and keep recovering, and I’ll get back in China flat out,’ concluded Sainz.

5 Things We Learned From The 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

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