Sainz enjoyed a strong qualifying on Saturday, beating Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc by over 0.3s as he qualified fifth.

The Spaniard made a strong start, moving up to fourth before dropping back to sixth as his soft tyres started to degrade.

The race turned on its head for Sainz when he stopped on Lap 21 for new medium tyres.

Sainz’s pace quickly deteriorated as his new rubber grained and he tumbled down the order, finishing 11th come the chequered flag.

Reflecting on the race at Portimao, Sainz revealed he had grained his tyres when he tried to undercut Lando Norris for fifth.

“It was also looking decent up until Lap 24; we were putting pressure on Lando and we went for the undercut and unfortunately we didn’t make it stick, we exited behind a Williams, I had to push really hard to try and do the undercut and we opened up the graining on the medium tyre,” Sainz said.

“We were the first ones to stop to put the medium tyre on and the medium tyre today was not performing on our car – we opened the graining – and from then on we went backwards.”

Sainz felt his race pace was good enough to secure a top-six finish, but the decision to go onto the yellow-marked rubber ultimately ruined his chances of a big points haul. 

“We know how sensitive these tyres are to this kind of pushing, and how this can affect – it’s part of the learning curve,” Sainz added. “You need to go through these kind of weekends or these kind of races to improve.

“Honestly the race pace all weekend was looking good; I don’t think the race pace was the issue, it was just that we got it wrong with the strategy of pushing on the tyres and we didn’t get things right today.”

Leclerc finished sixth as Ferrari lost even more ground in the race for third in the constructors’ championship.

McLaren holds an 11-point lead over Ferrari going into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

 

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