Sainz: ‘Pretty easy’ to overtake Hamilton, Bottas

Mark Scott
Carlos Sainz McLaren

Carlos Sainz hopes Formula 1 becomes more driver dependent in 2021.

Carlos Sainz has said he found it “pretty easy” to overtake Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the race lead at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Spaniard played his part in a wet and wild start to the race in Portugal as both Mercedes drivers struggled for grip and tyre temperature in tricky conditions.

So much so that Sainz was able to take a shock lead for a few laps before he gradually fell away and back into the usual midfield pack.

Sainz was able to finish P6 but he, like many others, was eager to re-live his epic race start.

“Especially driving around them, it was pretty easy actually,” Sainz told Sky Sports.

“It was not actually a really tough battle or anything like that, it was just driving around them like they drive around us most of the time.

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He continued: “I nearly crashed into him [Hamilton] because he was braking so early, but I can just drive around the outside no problem.

“Now I see Valtteri, and I was expecting, because it was not raining anymore, I was expecting him to pick up the pace. I don’t know, I was just super comfortable.

“Then I’m on top of him, and I try to show my nose to try and make him a bit nervous and look in the mirrors, and he misses a bit the apex.

“I think that showing a bit the nose got him looking in the mirrors and missing the apex, that got me into the lead.

“I put a lot of emphasis on the warm-up lap to try and make sure I got the tyres up to temperature.

“Then you see a few cars here on the medium tyre, others on the soft, but I think those extra few degrees on the soft tyre and those extra degrees that I put on the formation lap gave me this good first lap.”

Although Sainz put extra emphasis on his tyres, the tyre graining that occurs due to the set-up of the McLaren car has prevented him from finishing even higher, in his opinion.

“We’ve been struggling the last couple of races with the cooler temperatures,” he said. “Our car tends to understeer a bit in mid-corner, and that damages the front left quite a lot.

“It has been a feature of our car recently, and we need to keep investigating why, because today, without the graining, after leading at the start, I think we could have at least finished P4, P5, with a normal race.”

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