Carlos Sainz will surely remember the Brazilian Grand Prix as one of the toughest races of his life, but also as one of the most outstanding. Today the driver of Scuderia Toro Rosso matched his best ever result in Formula 1 by finishing sixth after having started fifteenth. He made his way through the grid in an eventful race full of Safety-Cars and even red-flag moments.
The rain began at dawn and by the time the Grand Prix was supposed to start, the tarmac was completely damp. Carlos started on full-wet tyres and from Lap 10 onwards he started to move forward as some of his rivals chose to pit for intermediates. Carlos could have done the same, but he thought the track wasn’t ready yet for that compound. He kept on improving lap after lap and he was already seventh by the time the Safety-Car came out in Lap 14 due to Marcus Ericsson’s crash.
Track conditions remained critical all day long. Kimi Räikkönen spun in the main-straight and that brought Carlos up to sixth. Later on, Nico Hülkenberg pitted with a puncture and the Spaniard moved up another place, now to fifth. The Toro Rosso managed to stick to a pace which was pretty similar to the cars he had around, despite the enormous difference in terms of performance among them. Although some drivers changed strategies midway into the race, Carlos only changed his tyres during the red flags. By keeping his head cool and not making any mistakes, he climbed up to fourth when the last Safety-Car appeared.
Fourth was an extraordinary position and quite surprising for a Toro Rosso. He was under fire by Ferrari’s four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who had the momentum. Max Verstappen was also approaching on brand new tyres. The immense difference in performance and the critical degradation of his tyres made it clear that it was better not to defend from Verstappen. He was down to fifth with four laps to go. He tried to stay ahead of Vettel, but the German and his Ferrari managed to get a way through in the penultimate lap.
Carlos’ race was spectacular, as he fought against cars that yesterday were two seconds faster than his in the dry. Plus, he didn’t make a single mistake despite the delicate conditions of the tarmac and the standing water on track. Today, the Spaniard scored Toro Rosso’s second best-ever result in a Brazil GP. He also matched his personal record. He was also sixth in Spain and the United States, although this time he had to recover more ground as he started from fifteenth.
After taking out his helmet, Carlos explained he felt really happy about the race.
“I’m super happy. It rained and that was precisely what we needed. We made the most out of our chances. It was very difficult to be P6 today. I tried to follow Checo the whole race, I think our pace was similar. In the end, my tyres were super old and there was lots of water. Verstappen arrived on new tyres and found his way. I’m very happy, though. It’s another P6 and we didn’t expect that. I could be happier”.
“We were ahead of cars that in dry conditions would have been two seconds faster than ours. It’s true that the wet may reduce that gap a little bit, but still they should have been one second faster in any conditions because that’s how Formula 1 is. So I’m very happy to have done that”.
Carlos always had a clear understanding of the state of the track. “The circuit was always for full-wets. It was too risky to go for the intermediates. I asked my team not to come in and it worked. P6, good strategy, no pit-stops and a trouble-free race”.
"It's one of the toughest races of my life. From home you can't appreciate how hard it is to handle 900 horse power in these conditions. You can’t appreciate how hard it is when you suddenly lose control of your car in the middle of a straight when you’re doing 300. And it's better not to talk about visibility. When Kimi Raikkonen spun, I saw a red car 10 meters in front of me. I had said before that if it rained we’d have our chance. It would have been impossible to achieve this in the dry, but we dreamed thanks to the rain. Finishing the race was already a success”, he said.
Talking about the development of the race and how hard it was to compete in these conditions, he said: "I'm sure that Hamilton, who had nobody in front, wanted to race. But when you are P11 or P12, you're in the middle of the spray and you can't see anything. I think the more we lapped behind the Safety-Car, the more water there was in track", the Spaniard said.
In his final debrief, Carlos didn't forget his team. "First, I wanted rain because I've been strong in the wet since my karting days. But second, we took the right decisions. We stuck to the full-wets from the very beginning and we waited for the conditions to improve. We all did a great job today”. Carlos is now twelfth in the World Championship, with 46 points. This means he has scored 73% of the points of his team.
The last meeting of the Championship will be the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will crown a new champion and will mark the end of an unforgettable 2016 season for Carlos Sainz. It will be on the 25th, 26th and 27th of November, and we will follow it closely live via www.carlosainz.es
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