He was the only driver to start on slicks despite the wet surface
Shanghai, April 9th 2017.- Carlos Sainz offered one of his best performances ever as a Formula 1 driver at the Chinese Grand Prix, where he finished today in a well-deserved seventh place after having started from the eleventh slot on the grid. With strategy, control and concentration, Carlos crossed the finish line as the first classified behind the leading teams that will fight for the Championship (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull). This result moves Scuderia Toro Rosso up to fourth in the Constructors’ standings. Carlos is seventh in the Drivers’.
Weather forecasts announced rain for the Shanghai race. The previsions were not accurate, but the track was still wet as it had rained earlier in the morning. Carlos was the bravest as he chose to start on supersoft tyres from the very beginning. He was the only driver on slicks, the only one who dared. The Spaniard knew the track would dry-off quickly and that his rivals would have to make an extra-stop to get rid of the intermediate tyres. It was crucial to stay on track and wait for the right time.
The strategy paid off, although the balance of the STR12 was compromised during the opening laps. He fell to P18, but by Lap 2 he was again in P14 as other cars pitted. In Lap 3 there was a Safety-Car as Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashed in the pitted for slicks. Carlos climbed all the way to seventh. Moments later, Valtteri Bottas spun on his Mercedes and Carlos improved to sixth.
With the green flag in the air, the action resumed. Carlos shocked everyone by keeping the pace of the Red Bulls and the Ferraris despite the delicate track-conditions. When the asphalt dried and the circuit gained speed, the superiority of his rival cars became more evident. Still, Carlos resisted in sixth without making mistakes.
In Lap 28, Carlos visited the Pit-Lane for his first and last pit-stop. He went from his original supersofts to softs. In Lap 43, Valtteri Bottas and his Mercedes overtook him in the back-straight using the DRS. The Spaniard was seventh and held on to that position until the chequered flag to conclude one of the most brilliant performances he has put so far in Formula 1.
He was absolutely happy as he jumped out of his car.
"You can’t imagine how happy I am. It was one of those races where there are opportunities. We were brave and we were quick. I will surely remember this Grand Prix".
His decision to start on supersofts was one of the keys of the day.
"When I took that decision and I saw everyone on intermediates, I wanted to die. I knew I had to be patient and sacrifice the start. I knew they would overtake me in the first corners, but by Turn 6 onwards the track was dry and I began to catch-up".
"When everyone pitted, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I knew it was worth to start on supersofts. Sometimes it is worth to take these risks when you are in the mid-field. The adrenaline rush is massive. When you take a look at the other mid-field guys, it shows the pace we had today and the brave risks we took".
"It means a lot to me that the team trusted my decision. This will be a big step forward for both the team and myself in terms of confidence in decisions going ahead. You can’t imagine the face of my engineers when I told them I wanted to start on supersofts. I won’t forget these moments".
The Spaniard is also proud that he was able to follow the pace of much more competitive cars than his. "On supersofts and with the track still wet, we followed Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. Yesterday they were 2,5 seconds faster than us, but today we were following them. I couldn’t be happier. It was incredible. I felt super comfortable in the car and I thank the team".
Carlos finished the race as the ‘winner’ of the mid-field battle. He was ahead of his rivals. This was his best ever result in Shanghai. With the six points scored today, he is now seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. It is his best season start in the series. Toro Rosso is now fourth in the Constructors’ despite the retirement of the second STR12.
With this good feeling, Carlos turns his attention to the third round of the 2017 Championship: the Bahrain Grand Prix. It will be held in Sakhir next week from April 14th to April 16th. As usual, we will follow his progress closely via www.carlosainz.es and our Twitter account @carlosainzinfo.