Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr awaits a difficult racing day in Spain as the Italian team try to tackle tire management issues.
Sainz qualified for his home race in Barcelona in sixth, two places and a tenth behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.
But Ferrari struggled with the mid-size tires at the Portuguese Grand Prix last weekend and Sainz eventually fell out of the points and got frustrated 11.
He also admits that Ferrari’s tire management problem is likely to recur during the Spanish Grand Prix.
“We have a small deficit in the race,” he said. “We know that we are not where we want to be in tire management.
“We had a lot of struggles at Portimao and we saw again on Friday that we don’t have the best racing speed and the best tire pressure.
“But at the same time I think that if we get off to a good start and execute the strategy well, we can still finish before the others.
“I think a little less, especially on this track, means that our relative competitiveness is a little higher.
“But as you can see, the last sector works well, the car works well in the corners and we had a pretty good balance all weekend.”
Explaining the outlook for the race, Sainz stated that his understanding of the Ferrari package continues to grow and give him more tools to help him stay in the midfield.
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I keep learning things and putting them into practice when I go out on the track,” added Sainz.
“A lot worked for me in qualifying that worked for me in Portimao, and now I’m trying to see what we can do tomorrow [Sunday]because tomorrow is our most complicated day and we usually go backwards a bit.
“We still have tire problems in the race, and let’s see if we can reduce that a bit tomorrow. The start here is just as important as qualifying, and we will try to move forward.”
Sainz gradually came across his new car, especially in qualifying, and was ultimately disappointed to be overtaken by Leclerc when it mattered in Q3.
“To be honest, I was up in Q1 and Q2,” he said.
“And although I managed to save two sets of tires for Q3, none of the laps was what I wanted them to be. I had the feeling that with a few strong laps I could have been in front today.
“But it wasn’t the case. I’m still having quite a bit of trouble with some types of corners that I can’t repeat, like Turn 10 and Turn 7, to feel the front line.
“But the positive thing is that I only did one run again in Q1, and that shows that my confidence is growing. And that I can actually be very fast when I hit the round. “
On his last Q3 run, he added: “The traffic was less well-kept, the car in front was closer. I think I could have done a 1m17.4 in both the first and the second run. So I didn’t make it, and it’s something to see. “
Spanish Grand Prix, the starting grid
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