Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has compared the drop in pace from qualifying to a race to feeling like a “slap in the face”, with the team’s rivals reeling them in and surpassing them on Sundays.
Sainz started the Miami Grand Prix from third after team-mate Charles Leclerc’s crash in Q3 brought out the red flags and ended the session prematurely on Saturday, meaning the final flying runs could not take place, leaving the Monégasque driver down in seventh.
Sainz began the race well on Sunday, but found himself overhauled on race pace by Max Verstappen and George Russell, with an undercut attempt on Fernando Alonso also later failing after the Aston Martin driver made his way back past during the race.
The Ferrari driver later elaborated that his push to try and undercut Alonso actually backfired on him later on, that the SF-23’s tendency to be harsh on its tyres reared its head again in Miami on Sunday after he went for several fast laps early in his second stint.
With the 28-year-old losing places late on in the race, he explained that the improvement of other teams around Ferrari feels like something of a “slap in the face” after the underlying speed the Scuderia show in qualifying trim.
“Good stint with the mediums, that made me think that the podium and passing Fernando was possible,” Sainz said after the race, as per the Spanish edition of Motorsport.com.
“We stopped on lap 18 or so and when we stopped and did two or three fast laps with the hard to do the undercut that ruined the rest of the race because we started to degrade and overheat the tyre.
“We have a car with very little flexibility in terms of strategy, so if you try anything you get out of the ideal number of laps for the hard tyres and it can be very long. We suffer a lot from inconsistency, overheating and so on.
“We have to keep trying things, but every Saturday we fight for pole and then Sunday comes and we get a bit of a slap in the face in the race, with the Red Bulls on another planet, the Aston Martin also with better degradation, the Mercedes who are a second behind in qualifying suddenly two or three tenths down on us.”
Alongside his issues in the race, Sainz was also awarded a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane as he slammed on the brakes to try and slow down in time for the limiter line.
This ultimately proved to be too little, too late, despite locking up heavily as he tried to stop. He admitted that penalty came of his own accord, but his 15-second gap to Lewis Hamilton behind prevented him from losing any positions after the chequered flag.
“I was surprised by the lack of grip at the pit lane entrance and I had tried it on the laps on the grid, but with the degraded tyre I made a mistake that luckily didn’t cost me anything,” Sainz said.