Sainz rode through the order from 19th on the grid after picking up an engine change penalty for the Circuit Paul Ricard race, and following the crash of teammate Charles Leclerc while leading, the Spaniard had battled Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for third place.
But just as he was throwing a pass at Perez in the final corner sequence, Sainz was told to stop, having opted for an alternative strategy to the leaders starting on hard and stopping earlier in the race. for mediums.
Sainz’s reluctance to go to the pits was heightened as he had to serve a five-second penalty for a dangerous exit in his previous stop, after nearly running into Alex Albon in the pit lane, and given the extended pit lane on the circuit, he estimated he would lose a total of 32 seconds.
Despite this and after taking third place ahead of Perez, Sainz was still ordered to stop on lap 42, dropping him to ninth place after serving his penalty. He came back to fifth place at the finish using the new tyres.
Sainz conceded he was frustrated on the strategy call after climbing onto the podium, but admitted the team had the full picture and were concerned about how long their tires would last on the mids. he did not return to the pits before the finish.
“With [passing] Checo, it was extremely difficult because the top speed of Red Bull this weekend was crazy and I had to invent a different place to do it and we did it,” said Sainz.
“That’s why it was a bit frustrating not to try to go all the way but the tires were very borderline I think.”
He added: “I’m sure when they show me the data figures and the tires they strongly believe I couldn’t have gone all the way, we have to trust the figures because it’s on what we base our strategy on. . I’m sure they did it with the best of intentions.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
“Obviously when you’re P3 on the podium after starting last, the last thing you want to do is box and get out of the way and waste seconds in the pit stop.
“Maybe that’s why I was more willing to take extra risks there, but in the end the team played it safe with the tyres, which I totally understand and we’ll have to analyze together. .”
Sainz still felt there were positives to focus on during his French GP weekend, having battled for podium places after starting from the back of the grid despite a slow pit stop and a race penalty.
“Managing to get on the podium with a slow pit stop, a difficult first stint on the hard and not doing much ground at the start, with a five-second penalty, etc., and ten still getting the P5 and the lap fastest and fighting for a podium, I can’t complain,” he said.
“There were a few obstacles in this race, some great battles and I had a lot of fun. It gave me a good chance to smell this car in the dirty air and learn from it, so I’ll take the positives.