Carlos Sainz admits it’s “heartbreaking” to lose what looked like a safe one-two finish for Ferrari at the Austrian Grand Prix and have his own title hopes further dented.
Ferrari had managed to put pressure on Max Verstappen early in the opening stint that led to the Red Bull driver suffering higher tire degradation than expected, and with offset strategies Charles Leclerc had passed Verstappen for the lead three times. Sainz looked set to follow his teammate into second place in the closing stages when he suddenly slowed in Verstappen’s slipstream, with his car catching fire.
“I knew as soon as it happened,” Sainz said. “There was no feedback coming from the engine that this was about to happen. Very sudden. I’m lost for words because it’s a big loss on points, on a huge result for the team. I think it would have been an easy one-two.
“I think for sure it is more difficult because we were about to cut the points to the leaders in the championship, both Max and Red Bull. We were about to do a very big result for the team and one of the cars DNF’d. It’s heartbreaking but we need to keep pushing and turn the page. It’s still a long season ahead.”
Sainz is keen to move on quickly from the disappointment because of the pace Ferrari has shown, but concedes it could well be a costly retirement given how badly the power unit failed.
“A lot of fire. A lot of damage for sure, which is not ideal and something that we will need look at. At least the pace was there — the degradation was very low on our car. We were fast. I will take it and turn the page as soon as possible.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto believes it’s likely a repeat issue that took Sainz out of the race, but has faith Ferrari will find fixes for its reliability weaknesses.
“We need to look into what happened — is it the same as the one we had in Baku with Charles? Very likely,” said Binotto. “It’s certainly a concern, but the people back at Maranello are working very hard to try to fix them. Obviously, looking at what happened to Carlos, it has not been solved yet.
“But we have new elements and I know how strong they are working and how good they are. I can count on them that it will be addressed very soon — or hopefully as soon as possible.”