Sainz surprised by Ferrari Singapore pace
By Mat Coch
Sunday 17th September, 2023 - 2:07am
Pole sitter for the Singapore Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz has admitted his surprise at the performance of his Ferrari in high downforce configuration.
Ferrari proved fastest throughout practice, Sainz topping two of the three sessions prior to qualifying, before claiming pole position in Saturday night’s hit out.
It’s the Spaniard’s second pole position in a row and comes on a dramatically different circuit to Monza last time out.
“I’m pleasantly surprised because our last high downforce tracks, we’re really struggled,” he said.
“We’ve been third, fourth, fifth fastest car and suddenly since we arrived in Singapore, a high downforce track, we were clearly one of the fastest, if not the fastest.”
Ferrari has been making progress with its car since introducing an upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The car has tended to struggle less in terms of tyre degradation and showed two weeks ago that it can perform well in low downforce trim.
“We’ve done a lot of work to try and understand our high downforce package and the team has done a very good job to put it together for Singapore,” Sainz said.
“But it’s true also that this always historically has been a very good track for Ferrari. It’s also been a good track for me, I like driving around here.
“It’s a good job, well done, but it’s also I think the track suiting our car a bit more than Zandvoort, for example.”
Race pace, however, remains a weakness and could be Ferrari’s undoing on Sunday despite having Sainz on pole and Charles Leclerc third.
The pair are split by George Russell, who has an extra set of medium tyres available for the race, affording him strategic options.
The Mercedes also looked like the faster car over a race distance, based on the long run pace shown on Friday.
“I’m more confused mainly because of the track layout I think it’s a bit easier to hold on to our track position,” Sainz said when asked if he was more confident about holding the lead in Singapore than he was in Monza.
“That obviously gives me more confidence than Monza.
“In terms of pace, I really have no idea how we’re going to be. Looking at long-run data from Friday, the Merc, the Aston, and the Red Bulls did look a bit quicker than us in tyre degradation and race pace.
“So it could be that tomorrow we have to run, yet again, a bit of a defensive race.
“But I don’t discount that around this track we could hold on to P1 because it’s a lot more difficult to pass than other tracks this season, but our race still looks like our weakest point.”