Carlos Sainz Jr took full responsibility for hitting the bollard on pit entry after making a last second decision to pit as he attempted to get the undercut on Pastor Maldonado during the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver had driven a strong race up to that point, but was forced to settle for tenth after damaging his front wing in the incident, causing a longer than expected pit stop that ultimately left him vulnerable to others in the closing stages of the race, but Sainz still felt it was one of the strongest races of the season so far.
“It was a good race until the mistake in the pit entry and I even think it was being one of my best races so far this year,” said Sainz. “It was a good first stint on the Options and an even better one on the Primes, I was really flying, catching the cars in front.
“Then it got to the point that it was simply impossible to overtake the Lotus on track, so we decided to go for the undercut. The team told me to do the opposite to Maldonado, and it looked like he was going to pit so I was meant to stay out on track, but he suddenly continued on track and I was so aggressive on the turn into the pit entry that I hit the bollard and damaged my front wing.
“I therefore lost some time during the pit-stop and if it was already meant to be a final long stint, it became an even longer one behind Perez, who was slow in the corners but fast on the straights. I destroyed my tyres behind him and in the end it was all about making sure I brought the car back home.
“The team did a very good job and I’m sure that we would’ve finished higher than P10 if it hadn’t been for my mistake – a rookie error that I will learn from. All in all, I’m pleased with my first Japanese Grand Prix!”