Ecstatic Sainz convinced career-best P2 was possible in ‘normal race’

The Italian Grand Prix may have been anything but as expected but Carlos Sainz believes he was on course for same P2 result with or without safety car shake up
Ecstatic Sainz convinced career-best P2 was possible in ‘normal race’

Carlos Sainz was refusing to be too downhearted at missing out on a much sought-after maiden F1 victory after falling less than half a second short of overhauling Pierre Gasly in a remarkable Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Already getting away in a career-best third position in the McLaren, Sainz made his lofty start count to grab second into turn one at the expense of Valtteri Bottas.

From here the Spaniard sat comfortably behind leader Lewis Hamilton and was pulling away from his team-mate Lando Norris in third when the race was turned on its head by a safety car to clear Kevin Magnussen’s stricken Haas.

Prompting Hamilton to dive for the closed pit lane to change tyres, he was duly penalised, but instead of benefiting Sainz, it allowed those which had pitted before the safety car - Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen, Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll - to assume the front positions.

With Leclerc’s crash halting the race altogether, Sainz resumed the standing-start second portion of the race from fifth on the grid but quickly began making in-roads to those ahead and was up to second again by lap 34 of 53. 

However, despite hunting down a 4.1s deficit to Gasly in front, Sainz but would come up just 0.4s short by the flag in a thrilling finish.

Despite the tiny margin at the finish, Sainz was thrilled to land a career best result and only his second podium in F1, but believes he would have finished second behind Hamilton anyway if the race had been ‘normal’.

“It’s incredible to be halfway disappointed with P2. I wouldn’t have had believed I would have a chance to fight for victory but we were very, very close. Honestly, in a normal race we would have finished P2 behind Lewis, because we had good pace. 

“We’ve got what we deserved but Pierre there, in front, is like how could that happen? I guess we had a bit of bad luck with the Safety Car but we did a good job to recover. Very happy with P2, we’ve been super quick all weekend, I felt like I could dominate the midfield pretty easy,  I’ve got to be happy with that.

“Getting back from P6 to P2, chasing Pierre and managing to finish three or four tenths behind him, we need to be proud of that, we need to be proud of the car. 

“Without the red flag, I think we would have finished behind Lewis today, but it is what it is.”

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