The bitter podium of Carlos Sainz

There are podiums that are celebrated as a victory and others that are lamented as defeats. The second square in Monza is situated on an intermediate wire.


How many times have I heard the same phrase during my time as a special envoy to the main cycling races: “The second classified is the first loser”. And for the record, in cycling, as in all sports, podiums are also held with tears. I remember, for example, the emotion of Alejandro Valverde when he managed to climb to the third step of the Tour. There are podiums that are celebrated as a victory and others that are lamented as defeats. Carlos Sainz's second place at the Italian Grand Prix is located on an intermediate wire. When the Monza race ended, we were not sure whether to laugh or cry.

If Sainz had finished his logical destiny behind Lewis Hamilton, the podium would have tasted of glory, only behind the unattainable sixteenth world champion, as the icing on the brilliant work of the whole weekend. But on the first step was not Hamilton, not even his partner Valtteri Bottas, not even the aspiring Max Verstappen, the only occasional alternative to the almighty Mercedes.

Up there was Pierre Gasly in his Alpha Tauri, a good driver with a decent car, a close relative of Red Bull. Let's not downplay Gasly. But a pilot, in short, within reach of the qualities and McLaren of Madrid, who knows perfectly that this Sunday he lost a great opportunity. That is why his later language of gestures, his lost gaze, are not those of a victory, although deep down he has enormous merit. It is a bittersweet podium, more on the bitter side. There is, however, good news behind this experience. Sainz already knows the route: third in Brazil, second in Italy… The only thing missing is victory, which will also come. This year with McLaren, the next with Ferrari… Sooner or later. But it will come. It's just a matter of staying out of the way.

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