Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton had contact on lap one of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fighting for position the latter taking to the run off area and staying ahead.
Hamilton however was instructed to give the position back to Sainz, but chose to do so “strategically” staying within DRS race and soon overtook the #55 Ferrari.
That meant Sainz had to fight to take the place again, which he did but after hurting his tyres and relegating himself to a two-stop strategy.
But at the least he did not have to overtake Hamilton again towards the end of the race as the seven-time Formula 1 Champion retired with a hydraulic problem.
Speaking of the trouble Hamilton’s retirement saved him, Sainz said: “[I’m] satisfied with that, mainly because we had a very tough first few laps battling with the Mercedes – they put us under a lot of pressure.
“Obviously [there was] the issue with Hamilton at the start. He jumped the corner and then gave me the position very cheekily back, to pass me back, so then I had to pass him back,” he pointed out.
Sainz explained the impact of the Hamilton clash on his race, saying: “I used a lot the tyre and used a lot the pace there, which forced me into a two-stop, which was a slower strategy. It is what it is, we had good pace, and we can focus now on starting like that next year.
“We need to focus on starting next season a lot stronger,” Sainz went on. “Unfortunately, this year has been tough. We’ve been on the back foot since the beginning, then when the car was at its best I didn’t put [in] a very good result.
“In the second half [of the season], we were not at our best, but I was driving a lot better, and I got very unlucky on some occasions – so we’ll try and put everything together next year,” he maintained.
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In the end a good season for the team
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Sainz feels the season was good for Ferrari despite all the mistakes and the disappointment of losing out to Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
He said: “I think it’s been, in the end, a good season for the team. You need to think where we were coming from the last two seasons. To be back fighting for wins, getting into the championship, I think is overall a good season.
“I know we did plenty of mistakes and we didn’t develop as well as Mercedes and Red Bull, which are things we take on board for next season. Now that we are back fighting at the top, we know the two or three things that we need to improve,” Sainz explained.
“Clearly Red Bull is just simply a more solid package where it works well at every circuit, whereas we were a bit more circuit dependent, in the second half of the season especially.
“I think the first half we were quick everywhere, but in the second half we simply didn’t develop enough. The others have clearly out developed us, especially Merc, and also a bit Red Bull.
“That’s how it goes, it’s Formula 1, it’s the first year of the team back fighting for wins, so we also got to see the level at which Red Bull are and what we need to do next year if we want to beat them,” the Spaniard concluded.
Sainz finished the season fifth in the F1 Drivers’ Standings behind Mercedes’ George Russell, but he can get consolation that he scored his first pole position and two more while also winning his first career grand prix, the 2022 British Grand Prix.