Carlos Sainz said he partially expected to be knocked out of qualifying in Q2 in Styria with continuing concerns over Ferrari’s tyre degradation issue.
The Spaniard admitted on Friday that Ferrari have been looking at this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix to be used as a potential “test” in which to sort out their continued problems with their front tyre wear.
Sainz ended up P12 in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, his lowest grid slot of the season, while his team-mate Charles Leclerc was able to wrestle a place on the fourth row out of his SF21.
Having taken part in an incredibly closely-matched qualifying session, the Ferrari driver said he had not had high hopes for the team’s Saturday performance as they have set their car up to be skewed more towards race pace.
“After what we saw yesterday, a bit yes,” Sainz told Sky Italia when asked if he had expected to be knocked out in Q2.
“We saw already from the beginning of the weekend there are others much more competitive than us. On this circuit we are really far from McLaren and AlphaTauri. And Alpine as well seem very competitive. We were there, Charles and I, half a tenth more, half a tenth up or down but there was not much more in Q2.
“A bit surprised. Let’s hope at least tomorrow the trend we saw to go back in the race doesn’t happen and we can go forward.
“We think there’s a bit the chance of rain. After the degradation of the tyre we had at Paul Ricard we decided to put a bit more downforce to see if this improves. But honestly, it’s not like with the other wing we would have been much faster. The step between us and AlphaTauri and McLaren is really huge and I don’t think a wing changes your life.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) June 26, 2021
Leclerc, meanwhile, said he was pleased with his performance as he put his Ferrari P7 on Sunday’s grid in Austria. But when asked if it had been “impossible” to get any more time out of his car, he echoed Sainz in hoping the race pace in his car will play to the team’s strengths at the Red Bull Ring.
“Impossible is a big word, but you can always do better as a driver,” he said to Sky Italia. “But let’s say when we see the gap with Gasly, in my opinion there wasn’t enough to go searching him. So I’m very happy with my lap, I did all my corners in that lap, I didn’t make mistakes. There was not enough to do better.
“We put a bit more work on the race simulation, hoping it helps us to understand a bit more the tyre for the race tomorrow that will be very important. Yesterday we were quite strong on the race pace, so let’s hope to have this kind of performance tomorrow in the real race, the one that matters.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla
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