Whilst the all eyes are set on Max Verstappen and his shocking, surprising and unexpected win, one of the key factors that led to it (other than the Mercedes crashing into each other) was Carlos Sainz’s incredible start which saw him jump both Ferrari’s on Lap 1.
This built from Sainz’s impressive Saturday qualifying where he finished in 8th place for his home Grand Prix. Come the race start and things only got better for him as he said ” I did one of the best race starts of my life to be honest” By the time the safety car was deployed he found himself in third place, effectively splitting the Ferrari’s from the Red Bull’s.
So how did Sainz manage to get ahead of the Ferrari? The start saw him split Raikkonen and Vettel into Turn 1 as Raikkonen got a poor start. As they came onto the never ending Turn 3 Sebastian Vettel got a snap of oversteer on exit and instantly lost traction off the corner. Vettel darted for the inside line in the same fashion as Rosberg, but when Sainz realized he couldn’t fit through he choose to swing the car over to the outside of the track (unlike Hamilton) and eventually swooped round the outside of Vettel in Turn 4, completing what I thought was the move of the race.
When the safety car restart on lap 3 Sainz would hold Sebastian Vettel’s attack off all the way through to lap 8 and Kimi Raikkonen by 1 further lap. Although only 5 laps, it was enough to allow Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen to pull away enough to bridge a large enough gap to not worry about the undercut in the first round of stops and the greater pace the Ferrari’s had.
Had Sainz not been ahead of the Ferrari’s they would have been on Verstappen’s tail on the restart and would likely have picked him off in the first stint with superior straight line speed or jumped him and/or them in the first pit stops with the powerful undercut always present at Spain.
Sebastian Vettel summed up the problem with not getting past early whilst on the soft tires saying: “We (Ferrari) struggled on the Medium tires, where Red Bull was strong, and this is the reason why Kimi and I couldnâ€™t attack”
So all in all, I think when Max Verstappen stops partying hard (like he deserves to), he should walk down to his old team mate Carlos Sainz, give him a pat on the back and congratulate him on holding the Ferrari’s up, bridging around a 3 second gap and for finishing an incredible 6th place, the best finish for Sainz in his career.