Carlos Sainz Jr took a gamble to start the Chinese Grand Prix on the Supersoft tyre, and despite a slow start and two off-track moments on the opening lap, he made the gamble work to his favour, running inside the top six and ultimately finishing a strong seventh, the best of the rest behind the three leading teams.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver revealed that it was his decision to start on the slick tyres whereas every other driver on the grid started on Intermediates, but the early Virtual Safety Car and real safety car brought him into play, and at one point was the fastest driver on track.
“WOW! What a race, I just don’t have words to describe it!” said Sainz. “On the grid I said I wanted to start the race on slick tyres and everyone thought I was completely mad!
“It sounds like a funny moment now, but when everyone took the blankets off the tyres and my race engineer told me that we were the only ones the Supersoft tyre I doubted my decision…
“When you’re on the grid, about to start a race, and you take a tough decision like today’s, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, knowing that you might have blown away a good result for the team…
“But I then said to myself, c’mon trust yourself, it’s the right thing to do! I knew the start and the first four corners were going to be very tricky – and they certainly were! – but from Turn 6 onwards the track was fully dry and I felt confident – the gamble definitely paid off!”
Sainz felt the pace was good throughout the race at the Shanghai International Circuit Chinese Grand Prix, especially in those opening laps when the track was at its dampest, and they were rewarded with the seventh place finish.
“But today’s result isn’t only thanks to this decision; it’s also down to the pace that we showed in damp conditions,” said Sainz. “After the Safety Car, I saw myself catching Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in front and I got super excited!
“It was just an incredible race, I felt so comfortable in the car today and to finally cross the line in P7 is a great result – I’d like to thank the team for the whole weekend, we can all be very happy!”