Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was denied a podium in Austria after his engine caught fire as he was moments from passing Max Verstappen for second.
The Spaniard had held back at the start of the race instead of fighting team-mate Charles Leclerc to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s sprint when Max Verstappen comfortably took victory, and the Monegasque found his way past the Dutchman 10 laps in.
The reigning champion pitted for Hards, and the Ferraris went extremely long, with Leclerc passing Verstappen on fresh tyres before the Red Bull driver pitted again.
The two Ferraris pitted once more, and Leclerc found his way through, before Sainz got to within DRS range of the 24-year-old.
However, as he was catching Verstappen on the way down to Turn Four, Sainz’s engine gave out, putting him out of the race, and he had to quickly clamber out to escape the inferno that was beginning to engulf his car.
The 27-year-old was not aware that he had an engine issue until after the failure had happened.
“As soon as it happened really, there was no feedback coming from the engine that this was about to happen,” explained Sainz when speaking to Sky Sports.
“It was very sudden, and [I am] a bit lost for words because it’s obviously a big loss on points, on a huge result for the team – I think it would have been an easy one-two today.”
As for the extent of the damage, Sainz is not sure how much there is beyond the fact that the power unit caught fire.
“[There was] a lot of fire, a lot of damage for sure which is not ideal,” he added.
“It is something that we will need to keep looking at, at least today the pace was there.
“The degradation was very low on our car, we were fast.
“So, yeah, I will take it and turn the page as soon as possible.”
Sergio Perez had already retired from the race following contact with George Russell on the opening lap, and it looked as though Ferrari would significantly close the gap to Red Bull in the championship with their second one-two of the season.
“I think for sure it is more difficult to take because we were about to cut the points to the leaders of the championship, both Max and Red Bull,” explained Sainz.
“We were about to do a very big result for the team and one of the cars DNF’d.
“So, it’s heart-breaking but we need to keep pushing, turn the page and it’s still a long season ahead.”
Leclerc went on to beat Verstappen to the victory after the Monegasque himself encountered some issues at the end, and his success takes him back above Perez and into second in the Drivers’ Standings, 38 points adrift of the reigning champion.