Sainz: Miami pace proves ‘something was not right’ in Baku

Carlos Sainz will start third in the Miami Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz will start third in the Miami Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz believes his pace in Miami proves “there was something that was not quite right” with his Ferrari in Azerbaijan a week ago.

Sainz qualified third for the Miami Grand Prix, confirming to himself that Baku was an “outlier”.

Though he finished fifth last Sunday, he was more than 20 seconds adrift of his team-mate.

He spent the weekend chasing car balance while enduring lockups or worse, luckily without contacting the barrier.

A week later, Sainz spearheaded Ferrari’s qualifying attack as Leclerc crashed out.

“It’s been back to the feeling I had in Australia,” Sainz said of his form in Miami.

“So it kind of confirms that Baku was an outlier and a very strange weekend for me – the strangest probably, in my F1 career, I’m not going to lie, and the toughest.

“But now, back in Miami, the feeling straight away from FP1 was back to normal.

“I was on the pace. I’ve been on the pace from FP2, FP3, just building it up through Qualifying.

“Bit of a pity we couldn’t extract the performance of the car today because there was definitely a lot more in it, but with the red flags and things, with the new tyre being so peaky around here, it’s always difficult to put it together.”

Such were his struggles in Baku that the Spaniard was insistent there was something wrong with his SF-23.

“We’ve changed a few things but it’s a tough sport to comprehend sometimes,” he explained.

“Sometimes you just put the car on track and there’s things that are not working or not feeling how they should.

“Yes, we have tonnes of sensors, tonnes of data, but it’s sometimes very difficult to spot exactly what’s happening.

“But I was so sure, I’m so convinced after Baku that there was something that was not quite right.

“It kind of confirms the fact that this weekend everything feels normal again and I’m back to where I was in Melbourne in terms of pure pace.

Sainz managed a best of 1:27.349s in Qualifying 3, two-tenths down on what he’d recorded in Qualifying 2 – and 0.5s away from Sergio Perez’s pole time.

Ferrari has looked to have taken a step since Azerbaijan, where it introduced a new rear wing designed to improve top speed down the long front straight on the Baku City Circuit.

This weekend it has a new floor and diffuser, the Scuderia one of just five teams with new parts in Miami.

Still, the car remains a handful, evidenced by Leclerc twice finding the wall at Turn 7.

“I had my moments through the high-speed section, also in FP3, which kind of confirms that the car around there, it’s just very tricky,” Sainz explained.

“We have a very peaky car, a very unstable car in the high-speed, and this sometimes generates mistakes, in this case, accidents.

“Both Charles and I, we’re trying everything we can to put the car on the limit, to put it where the car deserves to be which, in my opinion, this weekend, it’s just behind the Red Bulls.”

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