The Spaniard defended himself from Hamilton to tie his best-ever result in Formula 1
Montecarlo, May 28th 2017.- Carlos Sainz achieved a brilliant P6 in the race of the Monaco Grand Prix, where he tied his best ever result as a Formula 1 driver. The Spaniard moves up to the eighth spot in the Drivers’ Championship after scoring eight points in a trouble-free performance at the most iconic stage of the year, culminated with a class of defensive driving in the closing stages of the event as he felt the pressure of three-times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Today was an important day for Carlos. On Saturday, the Spaniard of Scuderia Toro Rosso qualified sixth in Q3. The city circuit, known for its tiny streets and short straights, is also famous for its minimal overtaking opportunities. Qualifying was more important than usual. From P6, Carlos could fight to become the first driver of the midfield. 78 laps later, he was.
The key of the Monaco Grand Prix is the start. When the lights went off, Carlos kept his head down and had good traction on the way to Sainte Devote, staying ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez. This situation left him at the tail of the Red Bulls, from where he would be able to control the race.
Sainz remained ahead of Perez all the time, although the Mexican tried a move on him in a zone where it was not possible and both cars touched. Luckily, with no bad consequences for the STR12. Aware of the threat, Carlos opened a one-second gap over Perez to keep him away from his DRS zone. In Lap 20, the Mexican pitted earlier than expected and Carlos consolidated himself in the sixth place, with a bigger advantage over his rivals, who today were a step behind his STR12.
In Lap 44, Carlos visited the pits for his first and only pit-stop. He moved from ultrasoft tyres to supersofts, rejoining the track on ninth place behind cars that were yet to pit. When they did, the Spaniard returned to the P6 he had previously held.
With 32 laps to go, Lewis Hamilton pitted and rejoined ten seconds behind the Toro Rosso. With fresher tyres and a Mercedes, the Briton made the most out of his car to chase down the Spaniard and close the gap. In Lap 59, the margin between the two was below the second mark. In Lap 60, the Safety-Car came out after a crash between Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button. When the green flag was waved again in Lap 67, Carlos was able to keep Hamilton behind him without making any mistakes. He crossed the finish line with 3.7 seconds over the silver arrow.
Carlos couldn’t hide his happiness as he talked to the media.
"A perfect weekend for us, definitely. The race we needed. We can enjoy it. We worked on this since Free Practice and we were clearly ahead of the mid-field, controlling the gap to Hamilton in the race. A very good weekend. And here we are… P6!", he said.
"To be higher than P6 or P7 is not realistic when the three top teams are a second faster than us in this circuit, two seconds in other tracks. Right now, our win is to finish the race in P7. Today we finished P6, so it’s more than a win".
Sainz described his fight with Lewis Hamilton. "He put pressure on me on the last laps. In Lap 40, they told me on the radio that Hamilton had stayed out and that he would attack me with fresher tyres towards the end of the race. I knew it was going to be tight, because he is fighting for a World Championship, but I knew that P6 was there for me to grab it if I didn’t do any mistakes".
The Spaniard hopes that Toro Rosso will keep some of the momentum gained at Monaco. "Six strong races, five of them on the points. We have done good Qualifyings, good races. We have picked-up points in places where we struggled with pace. I couldn’t be happier. I think the circuit has helped us, but I hope that we can learn something from here. This is a boost for the team. If we keep on fighting, the fifth place of the Constructors’ Championship will no longer be a dream, it will become realistic".
The next round on the calendar is the Canadian Grand Prix, which will take us to the city of Montreal and the circuit Gilles Villeneuve from June 9th to 11th. As always, we will follow Carlos’ closely via his official website www.carlossainz.es and our Twitter account @carlosainzinfo.