Sainz: Ferrari pace 'was nowhere' but execution great in Dutch GP

© XPB 

Carlos Sainz says his run to fifth in the Dutch Grand Prix was one of his best drives of the season, but admitted that Ferrari's pace at Zandvoort 'was nowhere'.

Sainz made an early swap to the intermediate tyre following a downpour at the start which allowed him to remain among the leading group of cars once the first wave of rotations had ended.

The Spaniard ran as high as fourth after his second stop but lost a position to Alpine's Pierre Gasly in the closing stages of the race. he was able however hold off the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris' McLaren.

Sainz highlighted Ferrari's near perfect execution as well as his own efforts, but reckoned that the Scuderia's SF-23 was only the sixth quickest car in the field.

"I would say after looking at the Alpine [we were] more [like] the sixth-fastest car this weekend," said Sainz.

"I know at some point it looked that we even could fight for a podium but the reality is that when the race was settled when you look at our pace we were just nowhere.

"But we managed to execute a really good race, we were fighting the whole race with people that were not in our pace, not in our race, fighting a lot quicker cars than us.

"So, we have to be happy and proud of well executed P5. Obviously not happy with the feeling of the car and how much I struggled out there today.

"It has to be one of my best drives of the season, for sure."

In a race that unfolded in treacherous conditions, there was ample room for errors. Yet the Ferrari pit wall didn't put a foot wrong.

"Honestly, today we nailed the calls, except for the first stop that we should have boxed on the first lap and we stayed out one extra lap. Everything else, we nailed it," said Sainz.

"And even the pace at the beginning of the race on new intermediates was really good, and as the race settled down in mixed conditions I was quick, but when the race settled down, we were just not back to our normal pace.

"But a lot of attacking, a lot of defending, had fun out there, but the reality is that once the race settled we were nowhere."

Scuderia boss Fred Vasseur revealed that Ferrari had opted for a low-downforce set-up on its cars, a choice that proved sub-optimal given the wet-to-dry-to-wet conditions at Zandvoort.

"For sure we were on the low side of the downforce and the conditions didn’t help us," the Frenchman explained, quoted by

"It’s clear that our package would have been better in standard conditions and more consistent conditions, but it’s not an excuse at all.

"We were already a bit too much up and down. If you have a look at what Charles [Leclerc] did yesterday, I think the pace was very good at this stage before the crash [in Q3].

"But it’s not the result that we are expecting overall."

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