Sainz surprise at Ferrari ‘second force’ failure
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 21st March, 2023 - 1:22am
Carlos Sainz was left surprised at Ferrari’s failure to be the “second force” across the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
Sainz was fully expecting the Scuderia to take a step forward from its season-opening performance in Bahrain where it trailed Red Bull and Aston Martin.
Instead, Ferrari found itself not only behind both of those teams, but also Mercedes around the high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc trailed home sixth and seventh, 36 and 44 seconds adrift respectively of race-winner Sergio Perez in his Red Bull, as the tyre degradation issues that blighted their Bahrain Grand Prix were again in evidence in Saudi Arabia.
“I think the last stint on the hard (tyres) proves we are not where we want to be, that we still deg more than the Mercs, we still deg more than the Astons, and we lack a bit of race pace,” said Sainz.
“I’m a bit surprised because before the weekend and after Friday practice, I thought we had a chance of being the second force in Jeddah.
“But that last stint on the hard proves we still have a lot of work to do, that we have a weakness in the race, and that we need to wait for the developments to come to see if we can improve that weakness.”
Ferrari ‘eats tyres alive’
For Sainz and Leclerc, the weekend in Jeddah exposed Ferrari’s weaknesses further, and their problems were not specific to the abrasive nature of the Bahrain International Circuit.
“This is the key – an unfortunate key – but the key to knowing that right now we’re not where we want to be in terms of race pace, in terms of the car in general, the balance, even in dirty air following,” added Sainz.
“If we already overheat the tyres in clean air, imagine (what it is like) following. We just eat them alive. We need clean air to produce some kind of decent lap times.
“So we know exactly our weaknesses, and this is a positive. We obviously cannot do magic to bring the developments early, but I know the team is pushing flat out to bring them and this will improve our race pace, for sure.”
Upgrades will change Ferrari’s season
The upgrades obviously now cannot come quickly enough, but once on the SF-23s, Sainz is confident Ferrari will challenge at the front again.
“We know where it (the problem) is,” said Sainz. “We identified it already in Bahrain.
“The thing is the car is doing exactly the same as in the wind tunnel, so we know where the weakness is in the wind tunnel, where the weakness is here.
“We know where to develop the car but we just need time because from the weakness that we saw in Bahrain and we saw here (in Jeddah) obviously we cannot bring the upgrades as soon as tomorrow.
“But I’m positive this team is capable of bringing them early in the season, and this could change completely our season. So heads down and time to work hard.”
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