Ferrari SF-24 ‘inconsistencies’ come to light for Carlos Sainz after big Leclerc gap

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz sitting in the cockpit in the Ferrari garage at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz sitting in the cockpit in the Ferrari garage at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz has pointed to “inconsistencies” with the Ferrari SF-24 for his disappointing performance at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, admitting he was “not happy” after lagging behind team-mate Charles Leclerc at Imola.

Despite learning ahead of the new season that he will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari next year, Sainz has enjoyed his best-ever start to a campaign in F1 2024 and collected his third career victory at the Australian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz reveals Ferrari SF-24 ‘inconsistencies’ after poor Imola showing

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

However, Leclerc has hit back strongly over recent weeks, finishing ahead of Sainz in each of the last three races in China, Miami and Emilia Romagna, where he finished third to become the first Ferrari driver to reach the podium at Imola since Michael Schumacher in 2006.

Having outqualified Sainz by 0.263 seconds to start third on the grid, Leclerc was 15 seconds ahead of his team-mate at the finish of the 63-lap race with Oscar Piastri’s McLaren splitting the Ferrari drivers on track.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after the race, Sainz cut a frustrated figure and revealed an unspecified aerodynamic issue, as well as an ERS deployment problem, had contributed to his lack of pace.

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He said: “I think simply we were lacking quite a bit of pace.

“Not very happy because I’m pretty sure that after qualifying we saw something in the car that might not have been working as expected.

“We also had some some issues with deployment so today was a bit of a damage-limitation race for me after what we saw yesterday.

“Honestly, I’m not happy because we’ve been lacking a bit and a couple of tenths too slow, which is not ideal.

“Having said that, P5 and how the race went it’s not like much happened.

“A struggling race that I didn’t enjoy at all with inconsistencies on the car side. I was struggling a lot back there.”

Pressed on the nature of the issue with his car Ferrari had discovered after qualifying, Sainz added: “Something on the aero side that we need to look into and also with the deployment, some issues during the whole race that was holding me back, especially in the first stint. Something to look at.”

Ferrari’s disappointing performance came after the team arrived at Imola with a significant upgrade package – featuring changes to the sidepods, floor and rear wing – as they aim to close the gap to Red Bull and McLaren.

Sainz insisted after qualifying that the improvements had performed expected, accusing the media of overhyping the value of the new parts in the buildup to the Emilia Romagna GP weekend.

Asked if the aero issue was related to the new parts, Sainz replied: “No. I think it’s more a different thing, but I cannot go into detail.”

Sainz insisted that Ferrari remain capable of fighting at the front, but confessed improvements are required for the Scuderia to challenge the likes of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in qualifying conditions.

He explained: “I think Charles showed some good pace today and it meant that we were in a race.

“We seem like we can fight with these guys. It just seems like they have a bit more than us in qualifying, which is something that we need to look into and something that we need to keep improving because there’s going to be circuits where you cannot do anything with strategy or overtaking, like we’ve seen at Imola.

“We need to improve the one-lap pace, but it’s encouraging to see that in the race pace we remain strong.”

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