Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Sainz encouraged by team mate’s pole position despite 0.8s deficit

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr admits he struggled from the start of Friday’s single practice session after qualifying fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver will start Sunday’s grand prix from the second row on but was more than eight tenths of a second slower than his team mate Charles Leclerc, who secured pole position.

Sainz admitted he had not gotten to grips with his car on Friday, making mistakes throughout the afternoon qualifying session which left him behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“Honestly, since the very first run of FP1, I was just struggling,” said Sainz. “Same car, same set-up as Australia and for some reason I was just off. Off with the feeling of balance [and] with my own driving.”

Sainz had a harmless spin at turn one during the qualifying session. “I was just tending to struggle quite a bit,” he explained. “In the end I put myself into even more trouble in Q1 and Q2 by doing mistakes and losing even more confidence with the car. I was trailing the whole day.”

The Baku City Circuit has previously not been one of Sainz’s strongest venues. Leclerc has excelled at the street course and secured his third consecutive pole position there today.

“It hasn’t been an easy track for me in the past, for sure,” Sainz said. “I think it’s also the best track for Charles. I think he always tends to do particularly good laps and [is] particularly good around here.

“Congratulations [to Leclerc], because putting the Ferrari back on pole is great news for the team and a huge boost of motivation. We could already see some positive signs in Australia and without even bringing upgrades here he managed to put it on pole. So happy days, but homework to do for me.”

After a disappointing start to the season for Ferrari, Sainz says his team mate’s result shows they have made progress with their car.

“I think at the end of the last year it was also the case where we were fighting for poles and then lacking in the race, but this year, up until now, we had never had the pace to fight for pole,” Sainz said.

“It looks like the changes we’ve done recently are allowing us to be back in there and there’s still upgrades to come, so hopefully it’s a sign for the beginning of a new season, and we’ve found the problems with our car.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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6 comments on “Sainz encouraged by team mate’s pole position despite 0.8s deficit”

  1. Sainz’s pace is an absolute joke. I can’t believe that Ferrari actually consider giving him equal treatment as compared to Leclerc. Charles is the only driver on the grid who can go toe to toe with Verstappen.. Sainz can’t even match Perez on his best day.

    1. Lets not exaggerate. Sainz can be a very good pilot in his day it is that just the Binotto regime strange protection of him at expenses of Leclerc had not any justifiable sport reason.

      1. Sainz can be a good pilot on his day… but his days come only 3 to 4 times a year.

    2. What?
      Lewis could, Fernando could, George and Lando could all go toe to toe with Max.
      What are you smoking?

      1. What?
        Lewis could, Fernando could, George and Lando are not consistent.
        What are you smoking?

    3. @todfod
      Since when Ferrari choices made sense ? If they don’t go after the worst case scenario, then there is really something wrong with them. Sainz made his way into the team thanks to his social skills and his father influence into the garage especially on the Spanish/Latin engineers. Binotto extended his contract in a hurry even though he was failing on every single measurable way.

      He is slow, unreliable, makes mistakes under pressure and chewing his tyres faster than Leclerc. Ferrari do realize that Binotto messed up big time, that’s why Vasseur was named as a general manager and not a managing director like Binotto. In other words, he has to go through Vigna for validation. With Vigna in charge, the clean-up behind Binotto has just started.

      Rueda was downgraded, Sanchez left, Mekies was forced to leave despite Vasseur’s refusal and thorough changes will be made to the entire structure of the team. Sainz who was Binotto’s favorite came also under Vigna’s scrutiny and he is aware that he will not get his contract extended beyond 2024. The rumours suggest that he has already held talk with Audi for a possible move in 2025.

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