Sainz will line up P12 and team-mate Charles Leclerc will be one row ahead in P10 – but having had success in wet weather before, the Spaniard admitted his disappointment at missing out on Q3.
His former team-mate Lando Norris was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after a huge accident in the final part of qualifying and while Sainz was pleased to see his friend climb out of the car, he found it tough going overall on Saturday.
“Very tough [conditions],” Sainz told Sky Sports. “Glad he’s [Lando] okay, obviously huge shunt and it shows this corner maybe needs a bit of fine-tuning still.
“But for the race, obviously sad also for myself because first time in the rain for a long time that I’m nowhere, and we definitely need to look into what went wrong there and how we can improve it because it’s not normal.
“Normally we were very quick at Imola in the rain with this car and for some reason today there was something not quite right.”
At least Sainz’s concerns were not compounded by the stewards – they took no further action against the Spaniard after investigating a suspected blocking incident with Esteban Ocon.
🇧🇪 Very difficult day. I always enjoy driving in the wet, but the balance and the grip weren’t there today. We struggled to get the front temperatures up and had no feeling under braking. We’ll look into it. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) August 28, 2021
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As for Leclerc, he let out his frustrations over team radio after being knocked out in Q2 – and did not mince his words when it came to Ferrari’s strategy in qualifying.
“For me, guys, we f**ked up,” he said. “Let’s talk about it later. I don’t understand why we stopped. We were in a good place. Everyone stayed out.”
After having time to reflect on a difficult afternoon for the Scuderia at Spa, he has since been made to understand the thinking behind his strategy call at Ferrari and spoke more pragmatically about his chances for the weekend.
“I had some disappointment in the helmet during Q2 and I let it [be] heard to the team on the radio,” Leclerc said to Sky Sports.
“After that, they told me they had some rain on the radar for the end of Q2, which now I understand why we went earlier. It could have played into our hands, it didn’t today but it’s life.
“McLaren are very impressive in those conditions, but I think the balance overall is quite good for us. It’s just that the overall performance is not where we want it to be.
“I think it will be a very tricky race and there might be a bit of luck in the result if it keeps raining. But it shall make an exciting race.”