Ferrari “went away from the optimal strategy by trying to undercut the Mercedes” during F1 Spanish GP — Sainz

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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Starting P6 at his home race in Barcelona behind his teammate in P5, it has not been an easy Spanish Grand Prix weekend for Carlos Sainz.

Both the Ferraris started on new soft tyres behind both the Mercedes on old soft tyres. On lap 3, Sainz went around the outside and overtook Leclerc. It caused some tension between the two as slight contact was made — the Spaniard had pinched Leclerc on the apex.

The Monegasque driver mentioned that the original plan was for the Ferraris to manage their tyres and not push too hard in the early laps. It worked for Leclerc as he was able to extend his stints and get the desirable strategy of soft-medium-soft, and he was 9 seconds ahead of Sainz when the race was over.

Sainz dismissed Leclerc’s claims and said that the original plan was to attack the Mercedes on their older soft compound tyres at the start. He did undercut Hamilton at the first round of stops, but the 2025 Ferrari driver got him back on track quite quickly.

He added that the Monegasque complains too much after races.

“I think too many times he [Leclerc] complains after a race about something.

“I was on the attack, we were on the new soft, Mercedes was on a used soft. We had to go on the attack in the first laps that we have a new tyre and try to pass them, we said [it] even before the race.

“I passed Charles, I don’t know if he made a mistake or was just managing a bit too much.

“I undercut Lewis, I nearly passed Russell at the pit stops. I think I was trying out there what is required as a driver.

“He elected to manage more, in the end it kind of paid off because he beat me on a soft-medium-soft [strategy].

“For me, I elected to be aggressive and it didn’t pay off. George and I at the end on the hard were too slow while the guys on the softs were too quick.”

To the Spaniard’s dismay, the aggressive strategy did not fall on his side as his tyres wore out much quicker than Leclerc’s, having to pit earlier to the hard compound tyres for the final stint.

Ferrari also looked to copy Russell’s strategy with the 29-year-old, allowing Charles Leclerc to create a tyre offset. Sainz was ordered to let him go during the final stint. The Monegasque driver needed one more lap to get the Mercedes.

“I think I mirrored a bit what Russell did and I was a tenth or two slower.Charles mirrored what Hamilton did and I was one or two tenths slower.

“I think we went away from the optimal strategy by trying to undercut the Mercedes. Today was a bit like Bahrain. The more optimal you stayed within the stop laps, the faster your race was, and it was possible to overtake.

“So I just went a bit too far away from the optimal stop laps. Plus, probably the fastest today was to do a soft-medium-soft or a soft-hard-soft.

“The combination of those two things meant that I finished probably P5 or P4, so I just think Mercedes were quicker today.”

The moment with Leclerc was not the only contact for Sainz as he also had a brush with Hamilton in turn 1 on lap 19.

Sainz felt that it was unfair that Hamilton got away without a penalty, adding that the 7-time World Champion ran him off the track, believing the stewards are inconsistent.

“I felt like he ran me off the track and I was half a car length ahead. Normally the rule this year says that if you’re ahead around the outside, they need to give you space if you’re half a car ahead.

“That’s normally what the stewards have ruled this year, so I was trying to benefit from that rule, because that’s how they’ve ruled up until now.

“I’m not saying he was racing hard or not hard, just trying to apply the rule that the stewards have applied all season.”