Sainz targeted Ricciardo Q1 exit at Turkish GP

Date published: October 9 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] and Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] in-line. Turkey, October 2021.

Carlos Sainz said his plan was to get another driver knocked out in Q1 – and it just so happened to be a main rival in Daniel Ricciardo.

Heavy rain fell in the lead-up to FP3 for the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park, but by the time qualifying got under way the track was drying out nicely.

Initially almost too wet for slicks, the grip levels spiked in the closing minutes which meant it was a case of crossing the line as late as possible for delivering the ideal flying lap.

There was always likely to be a major name that lost out, and that turned out to be Ricciardo who could not find enough improvement on the soft C4 tyres.

But as it turned out, that was the result Sainz had hoped and actually set out to achieve.

The Spaniard will start the Turkish Grand Prix from the back of the grid having taken a new power unit for the race weekend.

“The plan was always that one, to do Q1 to try to see if we could get someone out of Q2,” Sainz told Sky Italia.

“It happened that we got Ricciardo out, who is our most direct competitor and we managed to get a McLaren starting from the back.”

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That was part one of the masterplan, with the second part involving Sainz offering a nice slipstream to his team-mate Charles Leclerc to help him progress from Q2.

That mission was also accomplished and Leclerc went on to secure P3 on the grid for the race.

“The second point was to give the slipstream to Charles in Q2 and we managed to do that. It worked well,” Sainz confirmed.

With Ferrari demonstrating strong pace, there remains a chance Sainz could score points on Sunday.

Leclerc, meanwhile, has a golden opportunity, starting from P3 after shining in the long runs on Friday.

And while a podium is on the Monegasque driver’s mind, ultimately he just wants to collect as many points as possible in the fight against McLaren over P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.

 

“I always hope for the highest step [of the podium] also when I start P15, even if many times it is difficult this year,” he said.

“I will push for this, then for sure being aware we don’t fight for the Championship with the two up front [Red Bull and Mercedes].

“We are fighting more with McLaren and we have to take important points tomorrow.”

Asked what was behind his strong pace and fantastic qualifying result in Turkey, Leclerc replied: “It’s everything. The car was very good already from FP1.

“We struggled a bit more this morning with the rain, but it was not bad either there. Now in qualifying I found yesterday’s feeling again.

“From Sochi, the engine is a bit more powerful. We’ll see tomorrow.”