Carlos Sainz Jr. was disappointed to miss out on a podium in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix, with the Spaniard feeling being stuck behind Valtteri Bottas late in the day cost him a shot at passing Lance Stroll.
The McLaren F1 Team driver finished fourth at the Bahrain International Circuit, but the time lost behind Bottas as the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver struggled with his tyres in the final stint left him with too much to do to both catch and pass BWT Racing Point Formula One Team’s Stroll for the final spot on the podium.
Sainz says it was frustrating not to be able to take his second top three result of the year, but he missed out on the podium to ‘luckier’ drivers, although he acknowledged that all three ahead of him had also been faster than him throughout the weekend.
“Argh! This is a very bitter fourth place,” said Sainz. “The podium was very, very close the whole way but unfortunately, we couldn’t make it happen.
“The start was obviously eventful, and I managed to squeeze into P3. That first stint on the Soft was super strong. It was a close call between strategies, and we went for the two stops. After the last Safety Car, the Mercedes stuck behind Stroll was not very helpful and I think I lost one lap too many.
“I managed to get past him and hunt down Stroll to the end, missing the podium by a small margin. I drove my heart out there today and did everything I could to get it. It’s frustrating, but at the same time we’ve been beaten by cars that were a bit luckier today and also a bit faster the whole weekend.
“So, we can’t be too disappointed, and we need to keep pushing until the last chequered flag. Congratulations to Checo [Sergio Pérez] on his first win, I think he deserves it. On to Abu Dhabi!”
Team-mate Lando Norris finished tenth having started on the back row of the grid following engine component changes, but the Briton felt he did not have the kind of pace to do much more on Sunday.
Norris gained nine places on the opening lap as he avoided the spinning Kimi Räikkönen and turn three and took advantage of the clash between Pérez and Charles Leclerc that also saw Max Verstappen retire. However, that was as good as it got for the twenty-one-year-old.
“Today was tough,” said Norris. “We had a really good first lap and got into P10 within the first few corners which was nice, but after that it was extremely difficult.
“We didn’t have great pace and I just had to try to stay where I was, which was still good enough for a point but nothing more. A tough one and we’ve got some improvements to make next time, but it was a good recovery from the back of the grid.”
“Carlos drove a great race and maximised everything in our hands” – Andreas Seidl
Andreas Seidl, the Team Principal at McLaren, says they would have taken fourth and tenth prior to the race, but the way the race unfolded means they leave Bahrain feeling like they underperformed.
The fact that Pérez and Stroll finished first and third means Racing Point leapfrog McLaren into third place in the Constructors’ Championship with just next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to go, while second and fifth for the Renault DP World F1 Team has seen them move to within twelve points of them heading to the Yas Marina Circuit.
Seidl believes Norris’ race was hampered by a technical issue on his MCL35, which meant the Briton was not able to extract the same kind of performance as Sainz, something the team will look into before the final race of the year.
“This morning we would’ve happily taken P4 and P10, but in the final analysis it is a disappointing outcome, with our competitors in the Constructors’ Championship both scoring heavily today,” said Seidl. “Carlos drove a great race and maximised everything in our hands.
“Lando had a very strong opening lap and was in a position to fight for some good points, but unfortunately we couldn’t extract the same performance as we could with Carlos’s car due to an issue with the car. This is something we need to investigate.
“Thank you to the entire team here at the track and back home for the hard work. One more race to go, next weekend in Abu Dhabi. The team – together with our colleagues at Renault – will dig deep and give it our all to finish the season strongly.”