Soft tyre knowledge key to Ferrari’s surprise poles – Sainz

2021 French Grand Prix

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Ferrari achieved its surprise pole positions in the last two races because the team understood how to get the best out of Pirelli’s softest tyre compounds, says Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Charles Leclerc took pole position for both races. Sainz also showed strong pace but was compromised by crashes involving other drivers in Q3.

The team did not expect to be as competitive as it was in Azerbaijan, said Sainz. “I think we need to look at it race by race, and I do think, for example, in Monaco we had the speed to to fight for pole and to fight for the race win.

“On the other hand, in Baku we thought that weekend we were going to be slower than in Monaco, but it turned out that in qualifying, we were actually one of the most competitive teams.”

Pirelli nominated its softest tyres for both races, which was the first time they had been used this year. “We got the warm-up of the soft right,” said Sainz. “We got the tyre switched on and that gave us an edge over the others and we were in contention for pole.”

Ferrari weren’t as competitive in race trim. “In the race, we actually went back to where we were expecting to be before the weekend, which was half a second away from the leaders on race pace,” said Sainz.

He believes there was “a new tyre qualifying factor” behind their Saturday performances. “We managed to get it right as a team with the tyre preparation and everything. But I think our realistic pace is more of what we saw in in Baku race trim.

“I think we still have a car that is slower than the leaders in pretty much 99 percent of the circuits this season.”

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2021 French Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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5 comments on “Soft tyre knowledge key to Ferrari’s surprise poles – Sainz”

  1. Or is it that:
    – Leclerc likes to focus his setup on Q3 a lot more than his colleagues
    – in both cases most likely Verstappen would actually have gotten pole if he had managed to get a decent lap in (which is even harder to do when Ferrari cause a red flag)
    – those two tracks are quite specific

    1. @f1osaurus Not sure what makes Verstappen pole in both races a given. A quick first sector is gentle indication but not confirmation of a lap that will end purple. By your logic, Sainz could have gotten pole in Monaco as well. Verstappen has himself (and/or his team) to blame for not putting in better banker laps in street circuits where you know the chance of a yellow or red flag is high.

      Also the Baku red flag was caused by Tsunoda primarily.

      1. Yes, I think sainz had a good chance of pole in monaco, was making a lap 70 thousandths faster than leclerc before getting 3rd sector somehow wrong.

      2. @wsrgo It’s not just a first sector.

  2. “I think we still have a car that is slower than the leaders in pretty much 99 percent of the circuits this season.”

    But, but… 99% of circuits is every single one, if they were missing ONE circuit it’d be like 96%!

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