Carlos Sainz Jr. admits the Monaco Grand Prix was ‘a bit of a disaster’ from the start, and despite scoring a point in the principality he was still left with a bitter taste in his mouth.
The Renault Sport Formula One Team racer managed to finish tenth despite extreme degradation of the front tyres with both the Hypersoft and Ultrasoft Pirelli tyre, with the latter being used for sixty-three laps of the race after a very early pit stop.
Sainz questioned why the Ultrasoft tyre was fitted when it would have been more practical to put on the Supersoft, which potentially could have given him the opportunity to hold onto the eighth place he was holding post pit-stop.
“Very bad, very bitter,” said Sainz to Spanish outlet Movistar. “I think the race was a bit of a disaster from the start. “Even though I was saving the tyres, the fronts degraded a lot.
“We don’t know why and it’s something we need to pay attention to. And then the decision to switch to the ultrasofts on lap 15 was not the most appropriate.
“I think the race was lost before that. It was lost with the degradation that we had with the ultrasofts. Even if it’s Monaco, the priority is the team and score points. We scored more than McLaren today. The mistake came long before that. Letting Nico [Hülkenberg] through is just an anecdote.”
His team principal Cyril Abiteboul has defended the decision to make the Ultrasoft call, feeling that at the time it was the correct decision to make, and once Sainz looks back at the race, he will also understand the reasoning behind the call.
“I think moving to Supersoft rather than Ultrasoft would have been even worse towards the end,” Abiteboul is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “At the time we were doing it, it was maybe not clear why we were doing it, but towards the end it was clear that it was the right thing to do.
“It was a very difficult race for him, he also had to let Nico past, so Nico could execute his race. We saw again that it’s so difficult to read into these tyres – it was looking like we were going to have a very, very difficult race with Nico, and suddenly the tyres came back to life.
“It’s so difficult to appreciate what’s going on in that situation, but I’m sure when he [Sainz] will watch the race in reply he will understand. But again we will have a discussion, and the team needs to appreciate what he’s done, and we need to keep that in our heads for the future.
“There is more to learn and to understand from this type of situation.”
Abiteboul felt Nico Hülkenberg’s eleventh place starting position gave him the advantage over Sainz when it came to strategy thanks to being able to use the Ultrasoft, but because the Spaniard qualified inside the top ten there was not an alternative strategy they could have employed.
“We could see that with our cars and those tyres it was better to start eleventh than start P10, or even P8 for Carlos,” added Abiteboul. “That’s also a factor for our car, because for some cars, like [Pierre] Gasly [Toro Rosso], like [Esteban] Ocon [Force India], they managed to make that strategy [of starting on hypersoft] work.
“We had no real alternative other than that strategy for Carlos.”