Carlos Sainz cited tyre degradation as the reason why Ferrari “got something really wrong” in their French Grand Prix horror show.
After two street-circuit races of much higher competitiveness, with a pole-position double for Charles Leclerc and a second-place finish in Monaco for Sainz, this was a step back towards the Scuderia’s bad old days of 2020.
Qualifying was not the issue as the two Ferraris started fifth and seventh, with the Spaniard a row in front. But in the race they each dropped like a stone through the order, Sainz ending up 11th and Leclerc a miserable 16th as all 20 cars reached the chequered flag.
Therefore it was a day without points for the Italian giants and they fell 16 behind McLaren in their battle for third place in the Constructors’ World Championship, as Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo took full advantage of their rivals’ flop by taking P5 and P6 respectively.
“It’s quite clear, quite evident that we must have got something really wrong to be so far off the pace,” Sainz told reporters after the race.
“It’s a limitation that has appeared in some of the races where we really struggled with the front tyres, with graining, with degradation, twice as much as our competitors.
“Cars that in qualifying we were half a second quicker than, like the McLarens, or three tenths quicker…towards the end of the race they were two seconds faster per lap.
“So it’s clear we have a limitation with the way we operate the tyres. It’s something we will need to analyse, something we need to try and get better through the season.”
🇫🇷Not the way we wanted to finish the weekend. It is quite clear that we lacked pace and we struggled with degradation through the entire race. We must analyze it,understand the issue and solve it. I'm convinced we will improve as a team. Austria awaits
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) June 20, 2021
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto concurred with Sainz’s assessment and fears the situation will be repeated in future at circuits with particularly high surface temperatures.
“Our race was a bad one, no doubt, out of the points,” Binotto told Sky Italy. “I have to say also a beating in some way, thinking of the Constructors’ Championship.
“Something didn’t work, we had a lot of graining on the tyres, we didn’t expect so much of it.
“So when one talks of graining, talks about the slipping of the tyre on the asphalt, maybe the too high temperatures of the tyres, I think we’ll see in the analysis. I don’t want to anticipate, but between the assumptions probably [there is] the overheating of the tyres.
“There will be other tracks where we will be more in trouble precisely for the temperature of the asphalt. Not all the tracks have these conditions, not all the tracks from the warm point of view can be critical. We’ll face them one at a time.
“Let’s try, meanwhile, to understand well this time and how eventually to correct if we manage to.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla