Carlos Sainz has said that the decision to go on a two-stop strategy for the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a risky one, but it paid off in the end.
The McLaren driver started eighth on the grid for the final race of the season, but found himself compromised in the opening stint after having to start in the soft compound, as well as finding himself stuck in traffic and after stopping for a second time, it looked like the Spaniard might finish out of the points.
But Sainz put together a strong final stint and managed to pass the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg on the final lap of the race for tenth position, securing him the final point paying position and ensuring he finished sixth in the the driver’s championship.
“The target this weekend was to finish P6 in the Drivers’ Championship and we made it happen!” commented Sainz after the race.
“It wasn’t an easy race, with a lot of traffic in all the stints and having to start with the Soft [compound].
“We went for the two stops knowing it was going to put me in a delicate position to make it to the top 10, but also knowing it was my only chance.
“I managed to catch Hulkenberg right at the end and pulled off an overtake, on the last lap, that I will not forget!”
McLaren Team Principal, Andreas Seidl, acknowledged that it wasn’t an easy race for the Woking based team, but he was happy with Sainz’s last stint, and his decisive approach to his overtakes.
“It wasn’t an easy race for us today, since the start on Soft tyres compromised our race time compared to the guys that had free tyre choice at the start.” Seidl added.
“Later in the race we decided to split our strategies and Carlos managed to put in an impressive extra stint with decisive overtakes on Medium tyres, which was then just enough to score the one point needed to secure P6 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Sainz’s team-mate, Lando Norris also secured a points finish, ending the Grand Prix in eight place despite being passed by Sergio Perez on the last lap, and Seidl stated that the strong performances from both drivers throughout the year have helped generate a great team spirit as well as a great platform from which to build on in 2020.
“Lando did a great job managing his Hard tyres for a long, long stint, which was just not enough to keep Perez behind, but gave us another P8 in the last race of the season.” said Seidl.
“Finishing in fourth place in the Constructors’ World Championship and sixth and 11th places for Carlos and Lando respectively in the Drivers’ World Championship, is a great achievement for the McLaren team this year.
“Our congratulations go to Carlos and Lando for an excellent job all year, in and out of the car, which has been fundamental to all the points we scored and for a brilliant team spirit.”