Carlos Sainz Jr. says he and McLaren “took a gamble” with a “super aggressive” approach that ultimately yielded his maiden Formula 1 podium.
Sainz Jr. started from the rear of the 20-car grid at the Brazilian Grand Prix, equipped with a fresh power unit in the wake of a failure that prohibited him from setting a lap in qualifying.
Sainz Jr. made early gains and ran a Soft/Medium strategy, coming in on lap 29 of 71, which left him having to fend off Soft-clad rivals during the final restarts.
Sainz Jr. managed to keep Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen at bay for fourth place, which became third post-race when Lewis Hamilton was penalised.
“We committed to a one-stop, I had to make moves in the first few laps and I did them, the one on [Sergio] Perez was good,” said Sainz Jr.
“From then the tyre management kicked in, then I started passing [Lance] Stroll, Lando [Norris] and all the people.
“I found myself in P8 and the decision to came to pit or not to, and we didn’t, we took a bit of a gamble, and this time it paid off, but the Safety Car restarts were probably the most difficult restarts of my life.
“Those unlucky Saturdays are allowing me to shine on Sunday, but races like that, once in a year, are good fun.
“When I started from last there’s obviously less to lose so you’re super aggressive like I was today, and every move stuck, as well as the defence on Kimi.”
Sainz Jr.’s podium came in his 101st grand prix while for McLaren it marked its first top-three result since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
The result also secured fourth in the Constructors’ Championship for McLaren.