Sainz ‘bitter’ with fourth after pit stop misfortune
By James Pavey
Monday 7th December, 2020 - 1:30pm
Carlos Sainz was left “bitter” with fourth place in the Sakhir Grand Prix after a promising first half to the race.
The McLaren driver vaulted from eighth on the grid to third on the first lap before the Safety Car was deployed for the incident between eventual winner Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, and Charles Leclerc.
On the Lap 7 restart, Sainz passed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1 for second, but he ran wide at Turn 3 and allowed Bottas to retake the position on the run to Turn 4.
As the race settled, Sainz managed his soft tyres and remained in contention for the podium after the first round of pit stops.
A Virtual Safety Car was deployed after Nicholas Latifi pulled his Williams to the side of the circuit at Turn 8. McLaren pitted Lando Norris from ninth under yellow, and attempted to do the same with Sainz with the race still neutralised.
However, the Virtual Safety Car was withdrawn just as Sainz entered the pit lane, and the Spaniard dropped to seventh following his stop.
Sainz recovered to fourth and climbed to within a second of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, but failed to make a move stick on the final lap.
With the two leading Mercedes struck down by pit lane dramas, and with Perez recovering to win despite being last on Lap 1, the race marked a case of what could’ve been for Sainz.
“This is a very bitter fourth place,” Sainz lamented.
“The podium was very, very close the whole way; but unfortunately we couldn’t make it happen.
“The start was obviously eventful, and I managed to squeeze into P3. That first stint on the soft was super strong.
“It was a close call between strategies, and we went for the two stops.
“After the last Safety Car, the Mercedes stuck behind Stroll was not very helpful and I think I lost one lap too many. I managed to get past him and hunt down Stroll to the end, missing the podium by a small margin.”
The 26-year-old, who also missed out on victory to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in Monza, was deflated to see another victory go begging.
However, Sainz paid tribute to former McLaren driver Perez, who claimed his first win in his 190th start.
“I drove my heart out there today and did everything I could to get it,” Sainz said.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time we’ve been beaten by cars that were a bit luckier today and also a bit faster the whole weekend.
“So, we can’t be too disappointed, and we need to keep pushing until the last chequered flag.
“Congratulations to Checo on his first win, I think he deserves it.”
Racing Point regained third from McLaren in the constructors’ standings, with Renault also taking points away from the Woking team following a maiden podium for Esteban Ocon.
McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl echoed Sainz’s frustration, saying the end result for the team was a disappointing outcome considering the relative gains made by Racing Point and Renault.
“This morning we would’ve happily taken P4 and P10, but in the final analysis it is a disappointing outcome, with our competitors in the constructors’ championship both scoring heavily today,” Seidl said.
“Carlos drove a great race and maximised everything in our hands. Lando had a very strong opening lap and was in a position to fight for some good points, but unfortunately we couldn’t extract the same performance as we could with Carlos’s car due to an issue with the car. This is something we need to investigate.”