Sainz charged through the field from the back of the grid after being forced to start 19th after taking new engine components.

The Spaniard found himself in third after overtaking Sergio Perez and George Russell albeit it on worn mediums.

Sainz was third on track but due to a five-second time penalty that he received for an unsafe release in the pit lane, he was on course to finish third.

Ferrari decided to stop Sainz again with around 10 laps to go, dropping him to ninth before finishing fifth with the fastest lap.

Sainz was heard discussing the strategy with his team in a series of radio messages, with Ferrari comically calling him into the pit lane when he was battling Perez on track.

Speaking after the race, Sainz defended Ferrari for their strategy choices today but also for the whole season so far.

“I think the team has done a very good job on strategy this year. I still believe at Ferrari we get super-criticised for things that other teams might be going through also in their pitstop windows.

“Every time there’s a tricky moment on strategy we are discussing things, but we are not a disaster like people seem to say we are. It’s just, we like to discuss things, we are open about them - yes, I was in the middle of an overtake but the team believed that was the right lap to stop and come back through the field.

“I believed that maybe at the time it was maybe better to risk it and stay out and see what happens with the tyres, even if it was a medium tyre on the limit of the life but I had just made it to P3 and I saw a podium position, I thought if I make these tyres last maybe I can finish on the podium.

“But we will never know. It was a feeling, the team has a lot more data on the computer, they have a lot more numbers to go through, and if they made that decision, I’m 100 per cent convinced they made it with the best of intentions and the best of spirits.”

Expanding on Ferrari’s decision to stop him for a second time, Sainz conceded he felt he could have made it to the end on his worn mediums but understood the decision to stop him again given that the team had more data available. 

"My point of view was that if I couldn't pass Checo I would box, because I was P4 and there was nothing really going on. But the moment I passed Checo I was like 'okay, I'm P3, let's see if I can pull away five seconds and make it to the end with these tyres'.

"At that stage, our numbers said that it was impossible to make it to the end, plus the five-second penalty, you risk even losing position to Fernando [Alonso].

"So, to play it safe we knew that P5 plus fastest lap was good points. In the moment, maybe my feeling was different, until I don't see the numbers then everything is impossible for me.

"We'll never know what would have been the best."

“The safest and the right decision”

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is adamant the decision to stop Sainz again was the correct one.

“We don’t feel it’s the right choice, we’re pretty sure it’s the right choice,” Binotto explained. “Because at the time he was short on [tyre] life, so it would have been really risky to go to the end.

“We don’t think he would have had the pace still to open the gap to five seconds because he had a five-second penalty at the time. And by stopping he did as well the fastest lap which is certainly a point which was granted. So I think that was the safest and the right decision to take.”