Carlos Sainz: Ferrari upgrades ‘brought to the worst possible circuit’

Thomas Maher
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Carlos Sainz believes Ferrari’s poor showing in Spain wasn’t helped by putting on upgrades that haven’t been fully figured out.

Having started from the front row of the grid, Sainz came home in fifth place at the Spanish Grand Prix – the Spaniard having been eclipsed by both Mercedes drivers and the recovering Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Sainz struggled for outright pace throughout the race, having been overtaken in a straight on-track battle as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell passed him into Turn 1.

It was a poor day for the Scuderia, with Charles Leclerc finishing outside the points, having come into the weekend with optimism as they introduced the upgrades for their SF-23 that had been earmarked for debut at last month’s cancelled Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Sainz had tried out the upgrade package in Friday’s FP1, with Leclerc persevering with the old configuration in order to allow for back-to-back comparison. From FP2 onwards, both drivers ran the upgrade package.

Carlos Sainz: Barcelona’s high-speed corners are Ferrari’s main weakness

“We’ve identified our weaknesses, we know exactly where we are lacking,” Sainz told Sky F1 after the race.

“The feedback is there, and the intention is there. We just need time, we need to keep trying, keep bringing things to improve the package.

“Mercedes today proved that they’ve done a good step and it’s a good reference. We’re gonna try our best, I see the team united, I see a team pushing flat out back at Maranello.

“We probably just put the upgrade on at the worst possible circuit for us which also doesn’t help.” recommends

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“Unfortunately this is our situation – we know race pace and high-speed corners are our main weaknesses and, unfortunately, Barcelona has a high degradation tarmac, a high degradation configuration, and a lot of high-speed corners.

“That’s why, today, we were struggling so much out there and also with the unpredictability of the car and everything. I did everything I could, the most optimal driving and stints that I could do but, unfortunately, P5 was the best we could achieve.”

Charles Leclerc baffled: Car limitations the opposite of qualifying

The Monégasque driver came home in 11th place at the chequered flag after a pitlane start, with his progress through the field slow and incremental for the man who comfortably led the race from pole until a technical problem at last year’s race.

Knocked out in Q1 as Leclerc battled an ill-handling car that prompted Ferrari to make umpteen changes to the rear of his SF-23 overnight, Leclerc was completely bewildered by what had happened during the race as the handling problems swapped to the other end of the car.

“I don’t understand what we are doing wrong, but we are doing something wrong,” he said, wide-eyed in confusion.

“And the tyres… I went from the first hard to a second hard in the last stint. I did exactly the same thing and the car is behaving in a completely different way.

“We have to understand because it’s been a few races that we have been struggling with the conditions or having a very peaky car and today was no better.

“The limitations were the opposite. So, yesterday, I couldn’t drive… I had a rear that was super loose and super strange. We will analyse all of this at the factory, which has not been done yet here. Today, the front was mostly the issue. So the limitations were completely different. The feeling was a little bit better today.

“It’s such a tiny window and, in those conditions on this track, it seems to be even more sensitive than others. We already know that this is one of our weaknesses and I feel like we are struggling more than others in those conditions. We need to be on top of those things.”