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Sainz: Better F1 car the biggest factor behind Ferrari strategy jump

Carlos Sainz believes simply having a much better Formula 1 car is the biggest factor behind Ferrari appearing to make strides with its race strategies.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Ferrari was praised for its sharp strategic decisions at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, in which Charles Leclerc made a rare one-stopper work to move up from eighth to fourth.

Meanwhile, Sainz was able to cash in a longer second stint on medium tyres, ensuring he had fresher hard tyres in a shorter final stint to pass four cars and claim third.

But while Sainz acknowledged Ferrari's strategy department had made steps in recent seasons, he felt the biggest gains were simply the result of having a much better and more consistent race pace with its SF-24.

"We've made progress on strategy over the last three years, progressively, but if you see a jump this year on strategy, it's purely down to the car," Sainz replied when asked by Autosport about any strategy improvements.

"I think just having a car that allows you to have flexibility on strategy is something that last year we couldn't have, so we were boxed in to stop at certain laps."

Ferrari made great strides in solving its crippling race performance issues from last year, which meant Leclerc and Sainz were often helplessly sliding down the order despite qualifying strongly.

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sainz feels those problems often ensured that no matter which strategy Ferrari chose, it was unable to truly make it work, copping criticism from supporters about its decision-making.

At the same time, it is much easier to make a strategy look brilliant with a car that is not only faster but looks after its tyres better and doesn't punish drivers for pushing.

"We couldn't extend. We had so much degradation that it looked always like people could extend and then come back on us on a harder tyre," Sainz expanded.

"Last year, we just [had] zero flexibility and we couldn't do anything without racing, so it looked like we were not getting the strategy right a lot of times.

"But when you have a car that is better on tyres, two drivers that can push on the car more often and you have that extra flexibility, your strategy also looks better."

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