Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc talk about the Spanish GP and the troubles that Ferrari had to face in what could be deemed a disastrous event.
For Ferrari, it was a nightmare weekend in Barcelona on what has been subsequently deemed to be their weakest track of the 2023 campaign. Spanish matador Sainz started from the front row and briefly challenged Max Verstappen into turn one but that was as good as it for the Madrid native who then saw his brilliant qualifying nosedive and he ended up in fifth place, three quarters of a minute down on the Dutchman.
The focal issue, as has been noted previously is Ferrari’s race pace. Starting on soft tyres, he pitted early for the hard compound and as a result, Lewis Hamilton got past easily on fresher mediums later in his drive to second place. Bottom line is quite simply poor tyre management by the Italian manufacturer which Sainz has pointed out once more.
“Honestly, I just spent the whole race managing tyres because we know we are very hard on them and with this high deg circuit, I just couldn’t push,” said Sainz to media. “We know it’s a weakness of our car and coming to a high deg circuit and a two-stop race, we were just managing the whole way trying to make it to the target laps of the stints and still falling short in a few of them”.
“The weaknesses of our car are coming alive on a circuit like this with the high-speed corners and how hard we are on tyres. But it also shows that in qualifying we must have done a pretty good lap. I think the race was again, a bit back to where the car is at the moment in race pace, and yeah, probably this sort of track is not great for us,” summed up Sainz.
Ferrari’s race pace was a setback after introducing comprehensive upgrades this weekend, featuring revamped sidepods, however, the nature of the Circuit de Catalunya with all its right handers really did chew up the tyres and is particularly tough on the front left corner.
At the same time, Sainz did praise his employers for slightly fast tracking their upgrades by introducing same at the Spanish GP, despite it being their weakest track. “Difficult to tell, I know the factory did a tremendous effort to bring them,” said Sainz. “Probably we brought them to our weakest track of this season because of the characteristics of the track”.
“So probably we haven’t seen the best of them yet. I still believe with the bouncing and the high-speed weakness we have we were never going to be very competitive around here. So, it’s too early to tell but I think they did a tremendous effort to bring it, so hats off to all the factory, let’s keep pushing and let’s keep improving.”
But if Sainz thought he had a bad weekend, team-mate Leclerc had a nightmare. Failing to exit Q1 for the first time in four years, he was lined to start from 19th. A change to the rear of the car saw him begin from the pits but he never really got going and ended up 11th, begging his team to get things right before it is too late.
“I don’t understand what we are doing wrong, but we are doing something wrong,” said Leclerc. “I went from the first hard to a second hard in the last stint, did exactly the same thing and the car is behaving in a completely different way. And we have to obviously understand, work, but we really need to now, because it’s been a few races we have been struggling with the conditions or having a very picky car and today was no better”.
Despite his qualifying nightmare, Leclerc did advise his car was better on race day but it was really of no consolation. “I did, the limitations where the opposite,” he said. “In qualifying, I could not drive. I had a rear that was super loose and super strange, we will analyse all of this at the factory, which has not been done yet”.
“The race was mostly the front where the issue was, so the limitations were completely different. The feeling was a little bit better today, on the second and third stint was quite a bit better. The first stint was really bad, but I think that was tyre related. And then you go on the second stint of hard and then everything feels fine, and you just do exactly the same thing as the driver, and it is just in a completely different place”.
“Luckily, we had much less problems compared to qualifying yesterday, where the car was more doing what we expected, unfortunately we still had this problem with tyres, especially in the first stint,” summed up Leclerc. He started the race on the hard tyre, hoping for a long first stint and a tyre advantage later in the race to help climb through the field.
But, it was not to be as he pitted for the first time at much the same time as Sainz on softs. “We’ve got so much work to do,” said Leclerc. “And to be honest, looking at our weekend, I would struggle to think that it can get worse than that. The target is to only get better from here.”
The 2020 season saw Ferrari struggle badly and regain their act in 2022. They have Montreal in two weeks, and racing at a circuit named after a Ferrari legend should be incentive enough for the Maranello concern to get it right and quickly.
Here’s Ferrari on the updates they had for Spain