Sainz admits Red Bull 'in a league of their own' in Spa

© XPB 

Carlos Sainz was struggling to put on a brave face on Sunday, after Ferrari were comprehensively beaten by their Red Bull rivals in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Sainz started from pole position, but only after Max Verstappen - who had been six tenths faster than anyone else in qualifying - was handed a 'back of the grid' penalty for additional power unit components.

With Verstappen ending up starting from 14th place on the grid, Sainz was able to hold on to the lead of the race when when lights went out. But all the time Verstappen was carving his way back to the front.

Having started on soft tyres, Sainz made an early pit stop on lap 11 which handed the lead first to Sergio Perez and then to Verstappen.

Although he was briefly back in front when the Red Bulls made their own stops, it took no time at all before Verstappen blasted his way past going through turn 5 on lap 17.

He soon pulled out a big lead over Sainz, while Perez found it almost as easy to dismiss the Ferrari a lap later to take second place. Sainz admitted that there had been nothing that he could do about the difference in performance levels between his car and that of the Red Bull duo.

"Red Bull - Max and Checo - they were in a league of their own today," he told the media in parc ferme after the end of the race.

"Unfortunately, it was harder than expected," he admitted. "I had a good start, and a good restart after the safety car, but the pace was just not there.

"We had a lot of overheating with the tyres and we were sliding around a lot," he explained. "My first two laps were strong but then we immediately went into high degradation and then I realised that we were degrading more than we should.

"We couldn't put a stronger fight and we just had to survive," he said after finishing in third place having fended off Mercedes' George Russell in the final laps.

"For some reason our package was not quite there this weekend, but in the end we finished on the podium and we will take it," he added. "But we will have to learn why at this track we were not competitive."

3rd place Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race

Sainz is hoping for better fortunes next weekend in the Netherlands Grand Prix at Zandvoort, a very different type of circuit to Spa - although one equally stuffed to the rafters with passionate Verstappen fans.

"Zandvoort should be a better track for us," Sainz predicted. "Monza should be advantage for Red Bull there, but we will try and win it in Zandvoort."

Today's result means that Red Bull is now 118 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors championship, but at least Ferrari have extended their lead over third-place Mercedes in the standings.

Sainz himself has moved up to fourth place in the drivers standings, one point ahead of George Russell. But he's over a hundred points behind Verstappen with eight races remaining in 2022.

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