Sainz: Monaco podium 'the least enjoyable in my career'

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Last year, Carlos Sainz took his first Monaco podium and the first for Ferrari when he finished runner up to Max Verstappen, but in hindsight the Spaniard admits it was "the least enjoyable" top-three finish in his career.

Sainz had delivered a solid performance in the Principality, qualifying P4 but starting his race third following the shock last-minute withdrawal due to a gearbox problem of Scuderia teammate and poleman Charles Leclerc, and then moving up to second after the retirement of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas on lap 29.

But Sainz's bitter-sweet feeling on the podium alongside Verstappen and third-placed man Lando Norris stemmed from the lingering anger and frustration born the day before when Leclerc's crash in qualifying in Q3 triggered a red flag that ruined what the Spaniard believed was a sure run to pole.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-21. 20.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo

"Monaco is the least enjoyable podium of my career," the Spaniard told Marca. "I was really pissed off on Sunday. What happened with Charles and all that [in qualifying].

"I remember that I didn’t recover from the disappointment for three days because it was my first chance to win a race and to take pole."

Sainz nevertheless finished in front of his teammate in F1's 2021 Drivers' standings, although Leclerc admittedly encountered his unfair share of misfortune during the season.

None the less, while the first half of his 2021 campaign was a difficult one, the Spaniard only improved with each passing race thereafter, and beating Leclerc on occasion was no small feat he insists.

"At Ferrari, I’ve come up against one of the fastest drivers I’ve ever faced," he said. "A very complete driver.

"I came from two very good years at McLaren. I wasn’t afraid to take on anyone or anything. The first half was tough.

"I had to adapt, but in the second half I started to go very fast and feel very comfortable with the car.

"That allowed me to do results and races at the level I expected of myself."

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