“I Owe Lewis One” – Sainz Explains His Gratefulness to Hamilton After Styrian F1 GP

Published 06/29/2021, 10:00 AM EDT
SHANGHAI, CHINA: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

It isn’t often that F1 gets to witness a driver unlapping himself during a race. Well, apparently, it did occur at the Styrian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton paved way for Carlos Sainz, who was on fresher tires and chasing after Lando Norris, running in P5.


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Fearing an incident similar to the Esteban Ocon-Max Verstappen clash at the 2019 Brazilian GP, the Spaniard opted not to take the risk of making a move on Hamilton. Instead, the Ferrari pit wall worked with Mercedes’ in finding a solution.

And, eventually, Sainz found respite, as Hamilton took his foot off the gas, letting the Scuderia past on the straight. What’s more, Sainz also waved ‘thank you’ to the seven-time world champion and reckoned he owed Hamilton a favor.


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What did Carlos Sainz say?

As reported by Motorsport, Sainz initially gave Ferrari the idea of communicating with Mercedes, requesting to let his car pass by a much slower Hamilton.

Can you not talk to Mercedes and tell them I will pull away please?” he asked. While Ferrari initially insisted that Sainz push himself past the Mercedes, the Spaniard wasn’t comfortable enough of making that move. Hence, Ferrari affirmed that they are looking into it.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 20, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during the race REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Following a set of radio exchanges, the Maranello outfit eventually informed Sainz that Hamilton would be slowing down to let him by. “I owe Lewis one, thank you guys,” Sainz told his team, as he waved thanks to the Mercedes driver.


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How did Sainz find himself behind the Mercedes F1 champ?

The Spaniard opted to do a massive first stint on medium tires that lasted for 43 laps. After pitting for a set of hard tires, Sainz came out in P7, behind Lance Stroll. It took him just over a lap to leap past the Aston Martin, and he had a relatively clear track ahead.

However, Sainz was then struggling to bring his tires up to temperature. Hence, he failed to pull away from Hamilton and rather had to let him by due to the blue flags.


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Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Styria, Austria – June 26, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. ahead of the Steiermark Grand Prix REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

And while Sainz hoped that Hamilton would keep pulling away, that wasn’t the case. The Briton started struggling and his pace only went downhill from there. Hence, Sainz spent almost 15 laps behind the Mercedes before Hamilton let Sainz un-lap himself.

This clearly shows the pace Ferrari had in the bag at the Styrian Grand Prix and was sabotaged by a relatively poorer qualifying pace. Hence, can the Reds figure out a way to improve their one-lap pace over the upcoming weekend and look to challenge the front-runners?


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Rohit Kumar

948 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.