Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Sainz understands reasons for poor Baku showing and is “hoping it was a one-off”

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr is going into this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix hoping to rebound from a difficult weekend in Azerbaijan where he lagged well off his team mate’s pace.

Charles Leclerc put the other Ferrari on pole position in Baku while Sainz was over eight-tenths of a second off the pace. While Leclerc scored the team’s first podium finish of the season behind the dominant Red Bulls, Sainz came in 24 seconds behind in fifth place.

Sainz told media including RaceFans in Miami he has “a pretty good idea of what might have happened in Baku” and is hopeful he can return to his more competitive form of previous races this weekend.

“Obviously, you’re never 100% certain, but that’s part of the sport. There’s good weekends, there’s bad weekends.

“Just looking at the positives out of a bad weekend we managed to come back in P5 and not do any mistakes, bring home the points for the team and now obviously very happy to move on and to be in Miami and try to do a good bounce-back.”

He said that in “Australia – the last normal track that we went to” he “felt really good with the car”. Sainz ran fourth in the closing stages of that race before being penalised for a collision with Fernando Alonso.

“Just in Baku I had an off weekend,” he continued. “But I’m hoping it was a one-off.”

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Sainz admitted it is more challenging to optimise the handling of the team’s latest car. “It is true that this year it’s more difficult to get the car into sweet spot with the set-up.

Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Gallery: Miami Grand Prix build-up in pictures
“This car is a bit more on the edge with many things. We’ve been struggling a bit this year since the winter testing to find the sweet spot of the set-up. But we’ve done a lot of progress on that so far and I feel like I understand the car.”

However Sainz said he doesn’t mind having a car which is difficult to set up if the team can find the performance to challenge Red Bull.

“For sure in the end you would prefer an overall fast car, you don’t care if it’s a bit difficult to put in the sweet spot. I think just now Red Bull are just quicker, a lot quicker everywhere and especially in the race looking at Baku.

“The limitation of this car is more how on the edge it is and how difficult it is to find the sweet spot. And also it’s quite a peaky car as we saw since day one of testing and we’re trying to improve it.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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14 comments on “Sainz understands reasons for poor Baku showing and is “hoping it was a one-off””

  1. It’s been a one off since forever… I like Sainz but I’m bored of his explanations…

    1. He’s been selling this one off story ever since he joined Ferrari and people complained why Binotto was forced sacked. Having extended Sainz’s contract despite having all the data suggesting that he’s been lagging massively behind Leclerc is enough reason for Ferrari to show him the door.

      1. @tifoso1989 yeah, I think maybe Ferrari has no other real alternative. Who would they replace him with anyway? and who’s willing to jump into the Ferrari ship that constantly has one or two holes in its hull and few competent people to patch it up?

        I think Ferrari needs to sit down with him and lower his expectations, so he can focus on helping Leclerc as much as possible.

        1. @fer-no65
          Apart from Verstappen and Russell, no other driver cannot seriously consider an offer from Ferrari including Hamilton at this stage of his career. Ferrari drivers are usually paid more than they have ever been paid in their entire career. Add to that the exposure, the fame… the stability. In normal circumstances, Ferrari doesn’t change drivers often.

          They just have to start looking early for a replacement to Sainz so by 2025 they will not be caught off guard. Piastri for example is indeed an interesting prospect and his contract with McLaren expires in 2024. Ferrari did have a great opportunity to bring back Alonso in 2021 instead of Sainz but they didn’t.

          It may sound obvious in hindsight but I was shouting on this proper forum the day Sainz was announced in Ferrari. I said that they have chosen the wrong Spaniard. I never had any doubt about Alonso, maybe because I’m an Alonso fan–boy. I was right anyway.

          1. Wow, leclerc + alonso would’ve been an explosive line-up!

  2. I think Sainz needs to understand what ‘one off’means. Sainz being quicker than Leclerc is a ‘one off’ … Sainz being outpaced by Leclerc in 22 out of the last 25 races is not a ‘one off’

    1. Yes, by 1-off he means he’s usually not this slow, but I think he knows as well as we do that even when he finds the confidence with the car he will still be outpaced.

  3. Bryan (@ruz234014)
    5th May 2023, 13:26

    If memory serves, weren’t they closer in performance their first year together? That said, I agree with the comments posted that Sainz is now just slower than Leclerc and needs to stop referring to every race as a “one-off.” Maybe he can’t adapt to the ground effect cars?

  4. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    5th May 2023, 13:28

    Well if that’s a one off his baseline alongside leclerc isn’t much better.

  5. First race last year was a one off already.
    The odd races are the ones he can actually race Leclerc.

    But…Ferrari signed him for a long term contract, so he’s saved for a while regardless of his performance.

    1. What’s annoying is that they extended his contract right after some TERRIBLE weekends by him early on last year.

    2. I mean, why rushing into extending the contract of a driver who’s doing terribly? Wait and see if he improves first.

  6. Only maybe two/three years ago people were bigging up Sainz like he was going to be future champion. I have never seen much to indicate to me that he is more than average. I mean I don’t think he’s a poor driver but unless he lucks into something by accident, he’s never going to be a WDC challenger.

    Maybe Ferrari ought to subtly manage him more like a no. 2 driver. Maybe they already do?

    1. man, i don’t even see him winning races right now. He just can’t manage the tyres without huge compromises to his pace.

      Spa last year he couldn’t do 6 laps and was asking for tyres.

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