Carlos Sainz discloses ‘uncomfortable’ truth about Red Bull RB20 pace in final stint

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez keeps Carlos Sainz at bay in Bahrain.

Sergio Perez had to make a soft tyre work for his final stint in Bahrain, and Carlos Sainz explained how he did.

Carlos Sainz revealed that the degradation on the Red Bull RB20 on soft tyres was the same as most other teams on hard tyres, making his last-stint chase for second place on Sergio Perez unlikely to succeed.

Sainz put in a Driver of the Day performance, as voted by Formula 1 fans, to take third in Bahrain, but even as he appeared to be on track to challenge Perez in the final stint, with hard tyres seeming preferable to the new softs Perez had, Sainz explained that the kindness Red Bull has on its tyres meant it was a viable option for them.

Carlos Sainz explains Red Bull tyre truth as other teams cannot match RB20 degradation levels

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Having seen how Red Bull have stacked up around Bahrain throughout pre-season testing and into the race weekend, Sainz knew that despite having a potential tyre advantage trying to catch Perez late on, it was entirely possible that the Red Bull driver would be able to make his tyres last the 20 laps required while most other teams could not.

“You guys need to consider that we’ve been testing here three days and I’ve been seeing that Red Bull degradation on soft, and it’s exactly the same as ours on the hard,” Sainz stated to media including PlanetF1.com after the race.

“So as soon as I knew Red Bull had a new soft for the last stint and Checo had it, it’s not like I went ‘okay, this is my chance’.

“I’ve seen the long runs they did on the C3 tyre in testing and you could see that they basically have the same deg on the soft as what everyone has on the hard, so I wasn’t getting too excited.

“Also, I was in a bit of an uncomfortable position because you’re there in the two, three second margin, which is where you get all the dirty air, but you don’t get the advantage of the DRS and the slipstream, so you’re just sliding a bit more.

“If I would have been within a second or maybe five seconds behind, I think on the hard tyre I could have maybe showed a bit more the true pace of the car and my pace today.

“But in that two, three second [window] is the worst place to be and I could never mount any proper challenge on Checo today.”

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Sainz knew from testing that Red Bull held a sizeable advantage on their long-run pace based on testing alone, but he felt it was a “good surprise” for Ferrari to have been within range of Perez at least on a track where Red Bull have excelled.

With that, when Formula 1 heads to circuits where degradation is not so much of an issue, that has given him hope that Ferrari might be able to compete for race wins this season.

“I knew they were they had a three, four tenth advantage, maybe not half a second like George [Russell] was saying depending on track conditions, but I knew it was going to be very difficult to beat the Red Bulls.

“They also kept a new soft, which shows me what their intentions and their plans were, so I knew the Red Bulls today were going to be very, very difficult to beat, so to keep up with one of them and have the possibility to fight is already a good surprise.

“I think we are at one of their strongest tracks of the season and with very high tyre deg at the rear.

“Hopefully when we go to a more front limited track and maybe better tarmac, our car will come alive and we’ll be able to mount a better challenge on Max for the win.”

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