Carlos Sainz says his chances of a podium finish in the Austrian Grand Prix were compromised by the Ferrari team order that stopped him from battling his team-mate.
For the second race in succession, Sainz was following Charles Leclerc closely on track when he was directly told on the radio to hold position behind the sister car.
Sainz’s race was further undone when a Virtual Safety Car period ended right as he was in the pits, resulting in him dropping behind Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris.
Although the Spaniard would recover to fourth on the road, he claims his efforts to make up for the earlier time loss were responsible for him landing a five-second time penalty for a track limits infringement.
Later on, Sainz was among a number of drivers hit with a further penalty after Aston Martin appealed the race result, adding an additional 10s to his overall race time and dropping him down to sixth.
“I was very quick on the first and second stint,” Sainz expressed after the race.
“Obviously the second stint was already compromised by the first stop, pitting behind Charles and catching the Virtual Safety Car ending, which made me lose six or seven seconds of race time, made me lose positions to cars I shouldn’t have lost, which meant I had to push on the Medium to overtake them, get the track limits… my race was compromised from that point onwards, but if I look at the pace, I was very quick.”
Sainz reveals that the team order he was given not to overtake Leclerc came from a decision made ahead of the race in order to aid Ferrari’s chances against its main rivals.
But the ex-Red Bull affiliated driver insists he had the speed to overtake his team-mate if he had been given the opportunity.
“We had agreed before the race to work as a team in the first stint to open the gap to the cars behind, so they didn’t want to fight,” he disclosed.
“I followed the plan even though I had quite a bit of pace and was quite comfortable there. I probably could’ve passed him [Leclerc].”
Sainz lamented not being allowed to stay out after losing out under the VSC and says Ferrari need to study the decision to double stack its two cars at the first stop.
“We need to analyse what we could’ve done there because clearly my race was compromised by that pit stop there,” he said.
“I guess the team had a reason to stop both cars. If not, I don’t know what happened.”
Despite his race being hampered early on, Sainz was able to swiftly recover the lost places from both Hamilton and Norris.
But despite his best attempts to hold off the advances of the fast-charging Sergio Perez, Sainz relinquished the final podium place late on, further adding to his frustration.
“Obviously, I’m very happy with my performance today, I did some very clean and neat moves,” he summarised.
“I defended well with Checo, as soon as I was arriving into a car, I was passing them. I was managing my tyres well at the same time that I was attacking.
“That’s why I’m frustrated right now, because I struggle to see a positive on this P4 with all of the pace and overtaking and defending that I did,” he added.
Asked if he thought getting two Ferraris home inside the top three was possible, Sainz replied: “I think a double podium today was possible. Especially with the pace I had.”