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Carlos Sainz

Sainz admits Ferrari 'played it safe' during contra-Japanese gamble

The Ferrari driver thought the team had "better pace than the results show" after finishing sixth behind Lewis Hamilton.

Sainz Japan
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Carlos Sainz felt Ferrari could have finished higher as it had "better pace than the results show" during the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Spaniard came into the race off the back of a shock win in Singapore, which broke the 15-race win streak of Red Bull and 10 consecutive wins from Max Verstappen.

It was expected to be a race focused on tyre degradation at Suzuka, something that has historically been a weak point for Ferrari with the SF-23.

Sainz elected to stay out longer to protect from an undercut from Lewis Hamilton, however Ferrari left him out for too long and he emerged behind Hamilton and George Russell, with the latter attempting a one-stop.

Mercedes was caught up in a team orders saga between Russell and Hamilton, which gave an opportunity for Sainz to pass the former in the closing stages as he came home fifth on a weekend he struggled with car set-up throughout practice.

Sainz: We had better pace than the results show

Sainz felt there was more to offer when speaking to media, including RacingNews365: "We had better pace than the results show," he said.

"I think we were very quick straight from the start, the first stint I felt like I had a bit more more pace than the guys in front.

"I managed my tyres well, but obviously being behind in track position is always gonna cost you, especially being difficult in Suzuka to overtake.

"I felt back to normal, as soon as I got up into a rhythm I understood the car well. A shame about the last pitstop as it cost us quite a bit of race time, but it is what it is."

Sainz explained that he elected to stay out instead of pitting to cover Hamilton because of his pace on the Medium tyres in the middle stint.

"A bit surprised at how little degradation we got in the first stint, when everyone boxed out of the way my in-lap was very quick," added Sainz.

"But we decided to play safe and we stayed out to protect from Hamilton and Alonso, but it was a bit lower degradation than expected as I could manage my tyres as well.

"Now we need to focus on and keep doing a good job there, because I feel like we had more pace than others."

F1 2023 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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