Carlos Sainz trailed Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly by just 0.415s on Sunday, but the McLaren driver was only “halfway disappointed” to miss out on his maiden F1 win.
Sainz enjoyed a good start, running second to Lewis Hamilton in the opening stages of the race, but the Spaniard’s chances were boosted when the Mercedes driver was hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty for entering the closed pitlane for a tyre change.
However, the subsequent red flag brought about by Charles Leclerc’s crash at Parabolica turned the race on its head but also allowed Gasly to move to the front of the field after the Frenchman’s well-timed pitstop.
Thereafter, by his own admittance, the Spaniard who was P6 after the restart didn’t leave anything on the table as he moved back to second and chase down the rapid Gasly.
2020 Italian Grand Prix – Race results
“It is incredible,” he said. “I’m halfway disappointed with P2 as you would not believe that I can have a chance to fight for victory today.
“We were very, very close, but honestly with a normal race I think I would’ve been P2 behind Lewis because we had really, really good pace. So I think it is what we deserved.
“I gave absolutely everything, didn’t leave anything on the table. We were out there battling our way back after a disappointing red flag.
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“I felt that during the Safety Car, I may be leading the race because I knew that Lewis was going to get a penalty, but then the red flag came out and that gave the opportunity for everyone to reset their tyres.
“With Pierre there in front, it was like ‘woah, how could that happen?’ But I guess we had a bit of bad luck with the safety car. Then we did a good job to recover it after the red flag.
“I am very happy with P2 as we’ve been super quick all weekend and I feel like I could dominate the midfield pretty easily today. So I have to be happy with that.”
While he was so close and yet so far from winning his first race, Sainz commended the entire McLaren team for a job well done.
“Getting back from P6 to P2 and then chasing Pierre and managing to finish three or four tenths behind at the flag, we need to be proud of that and proud of the pace of the car,” he said.
“Without the red flag I think I would have finished behind Lewis today but it is what it is.”
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