“I really didn’t think the podium was happening” – Carlos Sainz was leading the race after overtaking Lando Norris in the opening stages but soon found himself on the wrong side of tyre degradation.
Remarking Carlos Sainz had a roller-coaster of a Russian Grand Prix would be an understatement.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) September 26, 2021
How did Carlos Sainz go from race lead to midfield struggle to podium at Sochi?
The Spaniard finished qualifying in P2, overtook race leader Lando Norris in the opening stages, then found himself slipping up after a slow pit stop, but all’s well that ends well, ended up on the podium he least deserved, thanks to the Rain God, and a perfectly timed pit stop call by Ferrari.
“At one point in the race, it really looked like it was going wrong.
“After suffering so much graining on the medium tyre, after leading the race quite comfortably for the first seven or eight laps and facing so much degradation and losing the position to Lando, then being one of the first ones to pit and being in the queue behind Valtteri [Bottas] and suffering from all that traffic, at some point I really didn’t think the podium was happening.
“But I found myself P3 in front of [Sergio] Perez 10 laps to the end and I said now is a good opportunity to keep this position. I had good pace on the hard, I had a good feeling. But then suddenly I saw the rain coming.
“It was starting to rain in turn five and turn seven and all of us out there on hards were struggling massively to keep the car on track while people on mediums looked to have a bit more grip with the softer tyre, managing to keep the car on track whilst I was nowhere.
“I was at some point considering changing to the soft tyre just to make it to the end and in the end, we decided to go for inters for the last four laps and it worked out beautifully and we ended up third.
“Good calls, good management, just a bit more obstacles I was expecting after leading into turn two.”