Carlos Sainz conceded he was unhappy to be so far off Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc’s pace when coming home third in the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, who started fourth, got past Lewis Hamilton into the opening corners but found himself dropping well behind the first two, who duelled for victory until the Red Bull driver pulled away in the closing stages.
Perez had over seven seconds to spare on the road at the finishing line, although he needed them due to later receiving a five-second penalty for dropping too far behind the Safety Car.
As the race progressed, Sainz fell away from Perez and Leclerc and into the clutches of Hamilton, who uttered the withering put-down of “he’s really slow” as he tried to find a way past the Ferrari.
Eventually, Hamilton hit the barrier on lap 33 and that was the end of his threat to Sainz, who instead had to fend off a challenge from Lando Norris’ McLaren after the final Safety Car restart before coming home third with 11 seconds in hand – but eight seconds adrift of his Ferrari colleague Leclerc.
At the post-race press conference, Sainz was asked how he felt about his performance in a race delayed by 65 minutes due to heavy rain and which took place on a drying track.
“I think I cannot be happy because I wish I could have put some pressure together with Charles and Checo, and we could have been both up there to play a bit with Checo,” said the 28-year-old.
“But I simply didn’t have the pace and it’s something I need to look at. That’s why I’m not happy at all, because it’s the conditions where I normally am quite quick and normally execute good races.
“At some point I had to settle a bit because it was not worth taking any risks because I was P3 with 10 seconds behind and 10 seconds in front, and at that point you have to bring also the P3 for the team instead of pushing a bit too much and making a mistake.
“Something to look at, but of course I am not happy and I will look at this race with good analysis and come back stronger in Suzuka.”
🇸🇬 Strange race for me. I passed Lewis at the start, but then I struggled with pace and only recover it at the end. Lost the feeling with the car after being fast all weekend so we need to see why. Still, no mistakes and solid result. On to Japan.
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) October 2, 2022
Why has Carlos Sainz lost race pace?
Last season, his first with Ferrari, Sainz improved throughout the season and ended up outscoring Leclerc by 5.5 points.
This year has brought his first F1 win, in the British Grand Prix, and while his results have been largely consistent, his race pace has become increasingly less so.
Singapore was the second time in three races he had been unable to live with Leclerc having been running just behind him, the same thing having happened at the Dutch Grand Prix.
It is not having a huge impact as far as the World Championship is concerned, with Red Bull away and gone over the horizon, but this trait is beginning to stand out vividly and is something Sainz needs to address and rectify before it sets in irreversibly.