Carlos Sainz targets home Spanish Grand Prix glory as Ferrari team-mate Leclerc takes pole

By Sports Desk May 21, 2022

Carlos Sainz declared he is "ready to fight for it" as the man from Madrid chases Spanish Grand Prix glory on Sunday.

The Ferrari driver, 27, has had nine podium finishes in his career but has yet to take the top step, and doing so at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya would be ideal.

Ferrari have won this race 12 times previously, secured 38 podium finishes and earned a record 485 points, and it will be up to Sainz and pole-sitter Charles Leclerc to follow the illustrious example of Prancing Horse greats of years gone by.

Sainz has collected points in each of his seven Spanish Grand Prix appearances, finishing between sixth and ninth each time.

He has loftier ambitions for Sunday's race after qualifying in third position, behind Leclerc and last year's champion Max Verstappen, but knows that however well he might drive, other factors will come into the equation, not least how the tyres cope in the sizzling Barcelona heat.

"I think there's two key aspects," Sainz said. "There's the start and the tyre management that you need to get right to win here. Strategy, obviously being more than one stop, will be key also.

"There's many things in a 66-lap race that can happen. I'm ready to fight for it. Ready to get a good start, ready to try to get ahead. Ready to try and push from there."

Referring to team-mate Leclerc and Red Bull's Verstappen, who have respectively won twice and three times in the five races held so far this season, Sainz accepted both were a hard act to match.

The home favourite said: "Obviously, these guys have proved they have very good pace [on Saturday] and recently, but I think anything's possible."

This is the 52nd Spanish Grand Prix and the 32nd to be staged at this particular circuit. Of the previous 31 winners at the race's current home, some 28 have started on the front row. Two have come from the second row, while only Fernando Alonso, who started from fifth in 2013, has gone on to win from further back on the grid.

Sainz has observed the rear of his car is "very light" and suggested that consequently he was having to curb his natural instincts.

Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies urged caution about race prospects, saying rival teams might prove more competitive than proved the case in qualifying.

"And I think that any aspect, from the start to tyre degradation, which will probably be the highest we have seen so far this season, could make the difference," Mekies said.

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  • Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart

    Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

    Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

    The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

    That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

    "I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

    "As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

    "Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

    The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

    "I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

  • Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash

    Formula Two chiefs found Israeli driver Roy Nissany "wholly responsible" for the horror crash that saw a rival driver land on top of his car in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

    Nissany, a 27-year-old who races for DAMS and is a member of the Williams driver academy, escaped largely unscathed from the dramatic incident thanks to the Halo driver protection device on his car.

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    Nissany wrote on Twitter: "Thank you all so much for the concern. I'm ok, it’s part of racing and luckily the halo was there for me. We'll recover and come back stronger for Austria."

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    The stewards' statement confirmed the five-place grid penalty for next week in Austria.

  • 'There was a lot going on, yeah?' – Carlos Sainz breaks his F1 duck with stunning Silverstone victory 'There was a lot going on, yeah?' – Carlos Sainz breaks his F1 duck with stunning Silverstone victory

    Carlos Sainz hailed an "amazing" first Formula One victory as the Spaniard finally earned top step on the podium by winning a dramatic British Grand Prix.

    His Ferrari took the glory at Silverstone, some 12 years after Sainz won on the track in his fledgling Formula BMW days, a world away from the elite level of motorsport.

    The 27-year-old overtook team-mate Charles Leclerc after a safety car delay, which followed a lap-39 breakdown for Esteban Ocon.

    While Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso fought for the lower steps of the podium, Sainz stayed out of trouble and powered to the chequered flag.

    This was his 150th grand prix, and despite achieving a flood of podium finishes, a win had been elusive until now.

    "It's amazing. A first race win, 150 races later, with Ferrari in Silverstone. I cannot ask for more," Sainz said.

    "It's a very special day, a day I shall never forget. Lewis was on it today, I heard, but we managed to hold on and I'm incredibly happy.

    "It was not easy. I struggled quite a bit with the balance, especially on the first stint with the medium tyre, Max [Verstappen] was forcing us to push a lot through the high speed. I opened the front left, but even with all that I stayed believing that it could happen. I needed to stay in the race.

    "All of a sudden the safety car gave me the opportunity to get back on it, and we did it. You can imagine the nerves on the safety car restart knowing it was my chance and getting it done and then the win."

    Reflecting on the drama behind him, Sainz said: "There was a lot going on, yeah?

    "Silverstone has been a bit of a special place for me. I had a first ever race win for me in Formula BMW in 2010, first pole position here back in 2010, and suddenly 12 years later I achieve exactly the same but in Formula One with Ferrari."

    Perez took second place, with Hamilton third

    Mexican driver Perez suffered damage to the front wing of his car on the first lap, finding himself sandwiched between Verstappen and Leclerc, but recovered admirably from having to dive into the pits for repairs.

    "It was a great comeback," Perez said. "We didn't give up, and we kept pushing. Then the opportunity came at the end, and we took it.

    "It was a great fight with Charles and then with Lewis. It was an epic final lap, and it was a good fight within us."

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