Sainz lacking high speed confidence on CoTA bumps
Sunday 22nd October, 2023 - 10:28pm
A lack of time to fine-tune the set-up heading into the United States Grand Prix has left Carlos Sainz short on confidence in the high-speed corners.
Sainz has been half a step behind his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc throughout the weekend thus far.
He was outqualified in both Friday’s session for Sunday’s race and in the Sprint Shootout on Saturday.
“It’s mainly track characteristics that the car here is bouncing around a lot and jumping around a lot,” Sainz explained.
“When that’s the case, normally Charles copes with it a bit better than I do.
“This time, I didn’t have time to change the set-up to improve it, to put it a bit more to my liking, and go into the race weekend a bit more comfortable with the car, to extract more and more performance.
“In Sprint weekends that’s the problem, that you’re stuck with the baseline set-up, more or less, that you can run.
“The amount of bumps again this year surprised me, or us, being even higher.
“I’m just not coping very well with it in the high speed and not a lot of confidence – I feel like the car is going to snap on me.
“At any point, I’m having to drive, or be, one step under the limit, which is never ideal in quali.”
Leclerc will start tomorrow’s race from pole, having been second to Max Verstappen in the Sprint Shootout.
In that, he was the sole driver to bolt on a set of soft tyres, a decision that saw him gain ground in the opening stages before slipping backwards in the latter part of the 19-lap encounter.
“If we go for soft it means that our tyre model suggests that this not a bad tyre to go on,” he explained of his choice.
“If not, we simply wouldn’t even consider it.
“But it suggested that it could be a decent tyre for this race. Previous years the soft has been a decent tyre here.
“This time around, one clearly we need to analyse if we can do something because was it worth the risk? Maybe it wasn’t, but we need to analyse how we can maybe do a bit better there.
“In the end, it paid off at the start but at one point it did look like it was going to be very tricky.”
While Sainz ultimately finished where he started, he left the team with valuable information heading into Sunday’s race.
It is the only team with like-for-like comparisons between the soft and medium tyre, which was used by Leclerc in the Sprint.
“It’s an option for 10, 12 laps,” Sainz suggested of the soft tyres in the race.
“Where you want to do them is a matter of choosing.”