Peter Windsor finds it “bizarre” that Ferrari gave up on fixing Carlos Sainz’s fuel system issue an hour before the Qatar Grand Prix given teams have resolved similar issues on the grid.
Qualifying 12th for Sunday’s race at the Lusail circuit with his team-mate Charles Leclerc up in fifth place, Ferrari announced an hour before the scheduled formation lap that Sainz would not be starting.
“Due to a fuel system issue on his car, Carlos will not take part in the Qatar GP,” the Scuderia said in a short statement.
Ferrari ran out of time to fix Carlos Sainz’s fuel system problem
Ferrari reportedly discovered the fuel leak two hours before the race but after an hour of trying to fix the problem, they realised there wasn’t enough time.
That came as a surprise to former Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor who noted that in the past such issues have even been fixed while the car sat on the grid.
“Before the race Ferrari announced that Carlos Sainz wouldn’t be starting due to what they called a fuel system problem,” he said in his post-Qatar analysis.
“Now this is a 2023 super-complicated unbelievably-sophisticated Grand Prix car, fuel system problem couldn’t be fixed, Carlos Sainz out of the Grand Prix unable to start… I mean that hasn’t happened for a long time.
“And of course, I’ve been around in Formula 1 for long enough to remember the occasions when fuel pressure problems, fuel metering unit problems, all these things have been solved on the grid and the car got off.
“Seems bizarre to me that an hour before the race they said that can’t fix this, impossible.
“I can only assume it has something to do with having to get the tank out of the car or something horrendous like that.”
A ‘very disappointing’ P5 for Charles Leclerc
That left Leclerc to fly the flag for Ferrari alone but it was anything but a good night for the Monégasque driver who finished as he started despite Mercedes handing him what should’ve been a boost up the order when George Russell and Lewis Hamilton collided at Turn 1.
The crash put Hamilton out of the race while Russell had to pit for repairs. Despite falling to the back of the field, he came through to finish in fourth place ahead of Leclerc.
Although Windsor concedes the Lusail circuit does not play to the SF-23’s strengths, he said that was “very disappointing” for Leclerc.
“Charles Leclerc fifth in the Ferrari, kind of as we predicted,” Windsor said. “This was never going to be a good circuit for Ferrari as it doesn’t have any of the things that Ferrari do well, and it was a lone performance from him.
“Very disappointing really to get blown away by George after the incidents he had. Fair enough they got beaten by McLaren, but he shouldn’t have got beaten by George. Not a good day for Ferrari at all.
“So great shame for Ferrari only to have one car and for Carlos Sainz to be taking part in the pre-race festivities with a polo shirt tucked into his race suit not looking very happy as you can imagine because this could have been a reasonable day for Carlos Sainz. He might have beaten Charles Leclerc. Who knows.”