Sainz says he left tyre call to engineer as the decision “was 50-50”

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Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

After a race in which he started fifth but barely finished inside the points, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz defended the team’s strategy call to stay out on hard tyres as the vast majority of the field came in for fresher and softer tyres during the safety car period during Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

“I genuinely think today I was 50-50. That’s why I left it to the team to decide, because I really thought, what do I prefer: to be on a soft in P10, knowing that I’m against same-paced cars on softer and medium tires, which I’m not going to have a tyre delta to pass, so I’m P10; or a P6, trying to hold on to a hard tyre. At the end, we tried the riskier one, which was trying to hold on to a hard tire against them, which I think was risky, but I nearly made it work.”

After the early stop for teammate Charles Leclerc, Sainz extended his opening stint on the medium tyres, albeit lacking pace compared to Russell in front and Hamilton behind him.

Following his stop, he looked set to pass his teammate using the fresher hard tyres on his car. The Spaniard had made the tyres work to the point of briefly holding fastest lap of the race.

But ultimately with Sergio Perez coming from behind in his Red Bull on the soft compound, it may well have only been a matter of time before Sainz lost a position as well, even before the Safety Car was deployed to retrieve the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Sainz conceded “Checo was always going to pass us”, but in the process of getting passed out of Vale, both Alexander Albon’s Williams and Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc got by as well, shuffling him all the way down to 10th.

“I was trying my best to hold on to that position. In the end I was always going to be dead meat. I was on a hard tire, used hard tires against fresh mediums and softs. I actually think I did pretty well to stay ahead until Red Bull were going to pass me. And then once they pass you, you get a bit of dirt in the tires, and it’s always going to be tricky with all the cars on soft tyres.”

P10 for Sainz today leaves him a single point clear of Russell in the scrap for P5 in the Drivers’ Championship.