Frustrated with Ferrari’s call to pit him at the Monaco Grand Prix to cover Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz concedes perhaps he has a more aggressive mindset than those on his pit wall.
Last Sunday in Monte Carlo, Sainz raged at his team over the radio when he was called into the pits to cover Hamilton’s strategy given the Mercedes driver was behind him. As far as Sainz was concerned, the only person he wanted to fight was Esteban Ocon as the Alpine driver was running in third place and holding down the final podium position.
“What the f***! This is exactly what I talked about!” Sainz ranted as he once again found himself lining up behind Ocon after he pitted.
Told by race engineer Riccardo Adami that the “target was to cover Hamilton”, the Spaniard shouted: “I don’t care about Hamilton, I was quick!”
Speaking after the grand prix, Sainz called the timing of the pit stop “debatable” and felt Ferrari could’ve been a “bit more patient”.
He was asked about that in the drivers’ press conference ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix where it was put to him that perhaps he had a ‘more aggressive and forward looking’ mindset to Ferrari.
He replied: “I think it’s a fair assessment.
“I think I was honestly quite vocal about wanting to go and get that podium and maybe risking on staying on the hard, but I also fully understand the team perspective that we are fighting the team championship with Mercedes.
“There’s Lewis behind that just had a very quick out lap on the Hards and we have to protect from him and we have to go at a position which, at that space in time when I left the pits behind Esteban, I was quite frustrated.”
He, however, understands why Ferrari made the call.
“Once they explain it to you and they explain the rationale and the reasons they did it, I perfectly understand it,” he added. “It’s just that I probably wasn’t at the time in the same mindset.
“I was just focusing a lot more on extending the Hard trying maybe to catch the rain, trying to catch a Safety Car, trying to catch anything that would allow me to finish on that podium, and in the end we will never know.”
At the start of a season in which new team boss Fred Vasseur made changes to Ferrari’s strategy department, which having been one of the Scuderia’s biggest weaknesses in 2022, it begs the question of whether there has actually been an improvement.
“I would say that department is in constant progress and we’re doing, I think, a lot of progress,” insisted Sainz. “It just hasn’t been an easy year for us.
“When you spend the whole year starting further up on the grid from where you are actually… [where] your normal race pace is, which is normally…
“Our race pace this year has been a bit worse than our qualifying pace, then there’s always going to be doubts and criticism about our race execution because you’re always kind of, because of the pace of the car, going a bit backwards.
“I think that makes this first six races a bit more difficult to assess and judge.
“I do feel the team is doing everything they can and we can to be as strong as possible on that department but I… like always in everything in every aspect there’s margin of improvement and we’re doing it.”
Ahead of the opening race of the season, Vasseur sent former head of strategy Inaki Rueda back to Ferrari’s remote garage in Maranello while Ravin Jain was called on to oversee strategy directly at the racetrack.