Carlos Sainz’s poor pace catches Ferrari’s eye in failed Mercedes mission

Michelle Foster
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur looks on in the paddock at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur looks on in the paddock.

Parking his Ferrari on the penultimate lap in Abu Dhabi, Fred Vasseur says Carlos Sainz’s troubles were not created by the strategy, rather it was a “matter of pace”.

Qualifying down in 16th place at the season finale having been blocked, he claims, by rivals on his final flying lap, Sainz had a mountain to climb to score points on Sunday.

But points were what Ferrari needed given their battle with Mercedes for second in the Constructors’ Championship.

‘We gave it a go but again it didn’t work for us’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The Spaniard wasn’t able to do it.

Starting on the hard Pirelli tyres, he couldn’t slice his way into the top ten in the opening laps leaving Ferrari to play a strategy game.

Clawing his way up the order as those ahead of him pitted, he stopped for a new set of hard tyres that dropped him well outside of the points.

Running a long second stint he was again inside the top ten so Ferrari kept the Spaniard out in the hope that a Safety Car would salvage his race but to no avail.

Sainz eventually pitted at the end of the race and stayed in the garage.

“We started on the hard expecting the car to help us do a one-stop,” he told the media including

“I feel like we’ve seen many times this year, whenever we started on harder compounds with our car we struggled a lot.

“We had nothing to lose starting in P16 and we gave it a go but again it didn’t work for us. The harder compound at the beginning of the race with the dirty air, I was just sliding.

“It just didn’t work for us. And then once we saw that we had very little chance of scoring points we stayed out for a Safety Car and it didn’t work out.” recommends

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‘It’s not a matter of strategy, it’s a matter of pace’

Disappointed Sainz wasn’t able to help Charles Leclerc in his attempt to beat Mercedes to P2 in the standings, team boss Vasseur says the Spaniard’s problem wasn’t the strategy, it was his pace.

“It’s not a matter of strategy, it’s a matter of pace. But he didn’t have to pace today that takes all the strategy out,” he told the media including

“I think the issue was the pace today, it was not the hard or the medium as at one stage he had the same tyres on track as Charles.

“We have to look for an issue, it was not the strategy.”

Asked whether Sainz’s second practice crash could’ve been responsible for that, the Frenchman replied: “I don’t know if I knew I would have said so.”

With Leclerc scoring 18 points to Mercedes’ 17, Ferrari lost out on second place in the standings by three points.

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