Plastic bag may have ruined Carlos Sainz’s podium chances in Hungary

Jon Wilde
Carlos Sainz's Ferrari alongside George Russell's Mercedes. Hungaroring July 2022.

Carlos Sainz's Ferrari alongside George Russell's Mercedes during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Carlos Sainz has revealed his hopes of finishing on the podium in the Hungarian Grand Prix may have been thwarted by a plastic bag.

The Spaniard finished fourth at the Hungaroring, just over two seconds behind George Russell’s Mercedes as his Ferrari team-mate, Charles Leclerc, plummeted from first to sixth after being given a flawed strategy.

It completed another disappointing day for Ferrari, who failed to have a driver on the podium for the second consecutive race as the same top three from the French Grand Prix a week earlier was repeated – Max Verstappen ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Russell.

“I just discovered when I got out of the car that there was a plastic bag stuck in the side of the car,” said Sainz, quoted by Corriere della Sera.

“I don’t know if that plastic bag was costing me downforce because it was quite big.”

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The 27-year-old, who won for the first time in his F1 career at the British Grand Prix in July, had not been informed about any overheating issue with the F1-75 from the pit wall.

The theory was that the orange-coloured bag, which was noticed by Sainz when he climbed out of the cockpit, had become lodged after his second of two pit-stops on lap 47 when he had the soft tyres fitted – otherwise it would have been spotted and removed by a member of the crew.

Running for 23 laps on the soft tyres, Sainz was passed by Hamilton and demoted to fourth on lap 63 when the former World Champion was on a fresher set of Pirellis.

The pit-stops themselves also did not help Sainz because neither went perfectly, the second taking 4.6sec – galling when he came home only 2.2sec behind Russell, whom he had hoped to get past earlier in the race with the help of strategy.

“We had a bit of bad luck in the pit-stops because we definitely had a couple of slow ones,” said Sainz.

“Particularly the first one was costly because I think we would have just got George with an overcut, which would have put me as the leader of the race at the time and was a bit of a shame.

“But it’s how it goes. Honestly, the pace wasn’t great. I was struggling a lot with the front tyres, the balance, I couldn’t push on the tyres, and in the end I think we ended up more or less where we deserved to be.”