‘Sainz doesn’t deserve to be so far behind Leclerc’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz not looking happy on the grid. Australia April 2022

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz not looking happy on the grid. Australia April 2022

Jolyon Palmer feels Carlos Sainz “doesn’t really deserve” to be so far behind Charles Leclerc in the standings, saying his Australian GP crash was the result of a “perfect storm”.

And part of the blame for that storm belongs with Ferrari.

Sainz dropped 38 points behind Leclerc in the race for this year’s World title, prompting many pundits to claim that he’ll soon find himself as the support act to his team-mate’s title question if he doesn’t start winning, and soon.

While Leclerc has three podiums, two of which are race wins, to his name, Sainz has a P2, and P3, and now a DNF after crashing out of the Australian Grand Prix.

“It is really tough on Carlos,” Palmer told F1 TV.

“He is now 38 points behind his team-mate and championship leader Charles Leclerc. He doesn’t really deserve to be that far behind, so many things have just gone against him.

“It does seem he is morphing into the number two driver at Ferrari and it could have been so different.

“I don’t think the performance difference between the two drivers has been as stark as the reality is.

“He has to hit back soon otherwise the team will start galvanising behind Leclerc as they have a cracking chance to win this championship.”

Palmer believe Sainz was the victim of a “perfect storm” in Melbourne with two issues blighting his qualifying, leaving him P9 with Leclerc on pole position.

The first of that was the red flag for Fernando Alonso’s crash, the Alpine driver putting his A522 into the wall just as Sainz was about to complete a hot lap that would have put him just a few tenths down on his team-mate’s P1 time.

The second issue was a reliability problem, Ferrari struggling to get Sainz’s car fired up after Q3 resumed following the red flag.

Palmer explained: “Into Q3 and Sainz has a problem. First of all the first flying lap he is unlucky as he comes through out the final corner the lights go red for Fernando Alonso’s crash behind, just seconds before he crosses the line as he doesn’t get a time on the board.

“Last in Q3 that meant there was a lot more pressure on the final lap and Ferrari couldn’t fire up the car.

“Carlos was wanting to go out and do a prep lap and then a fast lap because the tyres and getting them into the window was crucial on the soft tyres.

“Because Sainz didn’t have his car fired up in time he could only go straight out on a fast lap and that left him with tyres that were a little bit cooler than he would otherwise have liked for a flying lap.

“He ended up having a scruffy lap, including a huge moment where he nearly put it into the wall at Turn 10, and ended up in ninth place. Far from ideal.”

There were more car troubles for the Spaniard on the Sunday with Ferrari changing his steering wheel on the grid after once again struggling to fire up the car.

That Palmer reckons played a part in the driver having anti-stall off the line for the start of the formation lap.

“He’s got a new steering wheel, the clutch bite point is I think in a different place,” Palmer explained.

“There is no plateau in the middle where normally you are hoping to drop it to around the middle of the paddle and that is going to be your sweet bite point for a perfect start but Sainz hasn’t found that so he has dropped the clutch too deep and bogged it straight into an anti-stall.”

He had the same problem at the race start, falling down the order and towards the backend of the midfield. And that led to a “perfect storm” with an “impatient” Sainz trying to make up positions where he shouldn’t.

That ultimately saw him being overtaken by Yuki Tsunoda and then Mick Schumacher with the Spaniard’s race coming to an early end as he tried to retake the position off the Haas driver.


“He just overcooks it,” said Palmer. “Schumacher defends into Turn 9, no DRS here because it is so early in the race, and Carlos just zooms around the outside but he is so deep on the brakes that he has caught himself out.

“He is in so hot that he can’t keep control, over the grass and now he is pointing the wrong way, needs to turn slightly to the right but he’s just out of control and that is end of Carlos Sainz’s grand prix really before it got going”.


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