Former Formula 1 driver Paul di Resta was unimpressed by Ferrari telling Carlos Sainz he needed to pit in order to serve his five-second penalty at the French Grand Prix.
It was a difficult weekend for Sainz, who came into the weekend with a grid penalty that put him at the back for the race following his second reliability failure of the season in Spielberg.
The 27-year-old got up into the points on the opening stint of the race, before the Safety Car was brought out when team-mate Charles Leclerc crashed out of the lead.
During the Safety Car period, the Scuderia boxed the Spaniard, but released him straight into the path of Alex Albon, earning themselves a five-second penalty.
Because Sainz had started the race on the Hards, he needed to box for a set of Mediums for his mandatory tyre set, so he either had to make it to the end on dead tyres, or box again for a fresh set.
The penalty made matters more difficult, so the team had a choice as to whether to serve the penalty at the end, or pit Sainz.
However, they appeared to believe that the pit stop was the only way they could serve it, presumably not even considering that the 27-year-old could make it to the end.
“So, we have a five-second stop and go penalty,” said his engineer.
“It’s not a stop and go, it’s a five-second penalty,” replied Sainz.
Di Resta criticised the Scuderia for not giving their driver “valid information,” and Sainz would eventually box having got past Sergio Perez for P3 with a brilliant move at Turn 14.
His engineer was talking to him as he was pulling that off, but he was unaffected, and he pitted not long after his move on the Mexican to serve his penalty.
Sainz was extremely quick at the end, grabbing the fastest lap as he got past Fernando Alonso to take fifth.
While the dominance of race winner Max Verstappen was insurmountable, a podium might have been on the cards had things gone Ferrari’s way.
“No, not the win but a podium position I think with a perfect race, we could have made it,” Sainz told Sky Sports.
“The win, I think Max was pretty fast and perfect out there so starting last, it’s not like you can beat Max.
“But, yeah it felt like a good recovery, a fast race.
“I think without the penalty we would have started on pole or in the front row like we could have done yesterday; the win would have been definitely possible.
“But, we started 19th and how the pit stop went and how everything turned to be, finishing fifth and [getting] the point for fastest lap is okay.
“I’m going to take it, but I believe with a perfect race we could have been further up ahead.”
As for talking to him during his move on Perez and calling him in for a stop rather than sending him to the end, Sainz believes that the Maranello side took the best decision available to them.
“I think the team is doing a very good job on strategy this year,” he explained.
“I still believe at Ferrari we get super criticised for things that other teams might be going through also in the pit stop windows.
“And every time there is a tricky moment on strategy, we are discussing things, but we are not a disaster like people seem to say we are.
“We like to discuss things, we are open about them, yes I was in the middle of the overtake but the team believed that was the right lap to stop and come back through the field.
“I believe that maybe at the time it was maybe better to risk it and stay out and see what happened with the tyres, even if it was the medium tyre on the limit of the life.
“But I had just made it to P3 and I saw a podium position and I said, ‘maybe if I make these tyres last, maybe I can finish on the podium.’
“But, we will never know.
“It was a feeling, the team has a lot more data on the computer, they have a lot more numbers to go through and they took that decision.
“I’m 100 percent convinced that they did it with the best intentions and the best spirits, it’s just we need to keep progressing and we need to analyse everything and see how we can do better.
“But I’m convinced that we’re doing a good job there.”
Initially, the 27-year-old wanted to stay out if he passed Perez, but he now realises that he was in danger of falling further back than fifth had he tried to go to the end on Mediums.
“My point of view was that if I couldn’t pass Checo I would box,” affirmed Sainz.
“Because there is nothing really going on and I cannot pass Checo, let’s box and try and come back.
“The moment I passed Checo I was like ‘okay, I’m P3, let’s see if I can pull away five seconds and make it to the end with these tyres.
“At that stage, our numbers said it was impossible to make it to the end, plus the five-second penalty to risk losing positions to Fernando or whatever, so the team [played it] safe.
“We knew P5 plus fastest lap was good points, and we took the points plus fastest lap.
“In the moment, maybe my feeling was different, but until I see the numbers and everything it’s impossible for me.
“I think we will never know what would have been the best.”
Another saving grace for Ferrari came in that Sergio Perez ended up behind both Mercedes cars of Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, but Red Bull have opened the gap to Ferrari out to 82 points in the Constructors’ Standings.