Carlos Sainz says the Safety Car came out at the “worst possible time” for his race as he tumbled to a disappointing 10th-place finish at the British Grand Prix.  

Having qualified fourth and fifth, neither Ferrari driver was able to keep pace with the McLarens ahead in the early stages of the 51-lap race, prompting an aggressive early pit strategy from the Italian outfit.

However, the intervention of the Safety Car on Lap 34 allowed those who had yet to make their mandatory tyre stop to come into the pits and leapfrog the Ferraris.

While Charles Leclerc changed tyres for a second time, Sainz stayed out on the Hards and eventually got shuffled down the order to take away only a solitary point.

Although Sainz was made to rue the timing of the Safety Car ruining his race, the Spaniard concedes that Ferrari simply lacked the speed against its rivals on Sunday.

“I think we expected Mercedes to be quicker, which they were,” he began. “We didn’t expect McLaren to be quicker, which they were.

“So in general, we were not very strong today out there. Very windy, very tricky car to drive again, very difficult to be consistent in these conditions.

“Still I think I was doing a pretty decent race, going long on the Medium tyre, putting the Hard and coming back with a very strong pace.

“And then the Safety Car came out in the worst possible time for me, because I had no tyres left. Boxing would have meant being P10, not boxing would have meant being P6 but with positions to lose.”

“We tried to stay up there, made it work for three or four laps until Checo [Perez] in a Red Bull was always going to pass us.”

Sainz had initially been using Fernando Alonso to protect sixth place at the restart, but the Red Bull of Sergio Perez eventually fathomed a way through at the Vale chicane.

The Mexican’s overtake compromised Sainz’s run onto the next lap, allowing Alex Albon to sail through before a wide moment at Turn 1 opened the door for Leclerc to swoop around the outside at Village.

“Yeah, I was trying my best to hold on to that position,” he said. “In the end, I was always going to be dead meat. I was on a used Hard tyre against fresh Mediums and Soft.

“I actually think I did pretty well to stay ahead until a Red Bull on a Soft passed me.

“And once they pass you, you get a bit of dirt on the tires, and it’s always going to be a bit tricky with all the cars on softer tyres.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19 battle for position. 09.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.

However, Sainz has refused to criticise the strategy call that saw him be overtaken comfortably by drivers on fresher rubber.

Leclerc, who had gone onto a new set of the Medium compound, was unable to make any further headway after getting past his team-mate, with Perez underlining that following in another car’s wake proved difficult.

I genuinely think today I was 50/50, that’s why I left it to the team to decide,” he explained.

“I really thought, what do I prefer to be on a Soft in P10, knowing that I’m against same pace cars on softer and medium tires, which I’m not going to have a tyre delta to pass, so I’m P10. Or a P6 trying to hold [on] into a Hard tyre.

“At the end, we tried the riskier one, tried to hold on a Hard tyre against them, which I think was risky. But I nearly made it work. It’s how it is.”

After two much more positive outings in Canada and Austria provided encouragement that Ferrari was getting on top of its earlier struggles, the weaknesses of its 2023 car were exposed once more at the high-speed Silverstone circuit.

Despite recent upgrades improving the balance and competitiveness of its SF-23 charger, Sainz suggests Ferrari’s form still remains too dependent on external factors.

“I think it’s going to be very tricky to predict [the pecking order],” he added. “And I think that’s a good thing for F1.

“Not a great thing for us, because we’re very dependent on the wind, on the track conditions, on the track temperature for our own performance, which will leave us a bit exposed some weekends.

“So I think track to track, we might be as strong as we were in Canada or Austria, and then we will go to a track like Silverstone and not be as strong.

“We just need to focus on our upgrades, our developments, where we are weak. And keep making progress and don’t think about the others.”

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