Verstappen’s qualifying error shows Red Bull feeling pressure from Ferrari – Sainz

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says Red Bull’s days of domination are over and Ferrari are putting pressure on them in the championship.

His team mate Charles Leclerc’s victory in last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, backed up by Sainz in third place, brought Ferrari to within 24 points of Red Bull at the top of the constructors’ standings.

Sainz believes Red Bull are still the team to beat but believes they are more vulnerable than before. “My common sense tells me that on normal tracks Red Bull should still be favourites,” said Sainz. “Domination, like we were seeing, hopefully not. But favourites, yes.

“Then it will be a very tight fight with both McLaren and us. I think we are all three at a very similar level. Our last reference of a normal track is Imola and Miami and if I see those two tracks, we seem to be half a tenth behind McLaren and maybe a tenth or two behind Red Bull.

“It still means that that any small progress, any small upgrade, any small thing that we bring to the car might switch it to a potential race victory or a winning car.”

Certain track configurations will play to Ferrari’s strengths more over the coming races, Sainz added. “In Monaco, we’ve always been strong. Street circuits like Singapore and last year in Monaco, it shows the strengths of the Ferrari.”

He said Max Verstappen’s error on his final run in qualifying last weekend, which dropped him to sixth on the grid, showed Red Bull are susceptible to pressure.

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“Being within 24 points of the Red Bull in the constructors, you see that when you put them under pressure yesterday, Max did a mistake in Q3 run two, Checo was out in Q1. We all just need to be there to show that these things can happen to Red Bull too. And [Saturday] is the best example.”

Sainz said Ferrari and McLaren have closed the gap to Red Bull since the season began and are now in a position to capitalise if they slip up.

“I think Ferrari, we will have our opportunities in these sorts of tracks,” he said after Sunday’s race in Monaco. “Canada I think is quite specific, but a Barcelona or any European track, where I consider it to be a normal track, I still think Red Bull will be favourites, but I don’t think they’ll dominate like they used to do.

“That’s good news for the championship. It’s just worth being within a tenth or two in quali, then even if they’re favourites, they cannot afford to do any mistakes. That’s where both Ferrari and McLaren, we can capitalise, which is a position that in Bahrain, race one, no one was there to be there.”

Leclerc’s win leaves him 31 points behind championship leader Verstappen. He said he isn’t thinking about the standings at this stage, having just scored his first win for almost two years.

“It’s still too early on in the season,” said Leclerc. “I think the upgrades that we have brought in Imola, we have still to see how well they work and where it will bring us. And then it’s all about maximising all weekends, and then hopefully, little by little, we’ll get there.”

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Keith Collantine
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17 comments on “Verstappen’s qualifying error shows Red Bull feeling pressure from Ferrari – Sainz”

  1. Not just Ferrari but McLaren too. This was arguably the third race in a row that Red Bull was not the outright fastest car. Bring it on!

    1. Arguably being the big word there. They were clearly fastest in Miami and Imola. Monaco was unknown, but without a mistake from Verstappen he’d have easily been top3 which was expected at Monco. Let’s see, but I fully expect them to be the car to beat at 95% of the remaining races.

    2. That’s simply not true. Max would’ve won Miami easily without that SC. And he only won the race in Imola because he demolished Norris on the first 2/3 of the race and built enough of a gap to have a breather when Norris picked up the pace.

      Now Monaco is the track where dominant cars often fail to win, it’s not a good reference for anything, yet 6th does not reflect Red Bull’s actual form there, Max was a contender for pole position until that mistake.

    3. its not Ferrari or McLaren, it’s Pirelli and 1/2 a second.

  2. Verstappen has never really been under pressure. He was an underdog up to 2021, where it was expected for Mercedes to win as they had the best car.
    And 2022, 2023 and first races in 2024 Verstappen had an easy stroll with no competition and no pressure at all. He doesn’t even have a team mate to compete with him for crying out loud.

    1. allright, somebody seems to be coping. Did you just say he didn’t had any pressure in 2021?? That is beyond ridiculous to state. And no he didn’t had the outright fastest car in 2022, first half of the season Ferrari was up their with them.

      1. Ferrari was slower in the first races of 2022. Its only the drivers, which drove far closer to the limit (hence some mistakes), trying to keep up with the superior RBR car.

  3. It’s not long ago that almost all the drivers were openly saying that they were pleased with taking second in a race as Max was obviously going to win.
    It’s nice to see those same guys hogging the podium for themselves now.

    That said, I fully expect Max and Red Bull to start coming back strong over the rest of the season as we revisit the classic tracks.

  4. Maybe, or maybe Max had to avoid the kerbs costing him a lot of laptime. In fact Checo didn’t make it our of Q1 without making a big mistake.

    Whatever the casemay be: we do have some kind iof fight for the championship going on

  5. I think it is valid to say Sainz is one of the very fast drivers around Monaco. As none of his past teammates, including Verstappen, Norris, Hulkenberg ever managed to outquilfying him at Monaco. Although he has never managed to outqualifed Charles (superior qualification abilities of Charles and being a native can be seen as a valid pretext) he also maneged to finish the races infront of his team mates including Charles, Verstapen and Norris.

  6. I think Verstappen’s underwhelming result was exaggerated by the circumstances. It’s borderline impossible to overtake at Monaco, and the early red flag eliminated the ‘mandatory’ pit stop.

    Give him a similar situation at Canada, or anywhere else with a big DRS zone and he’ll have no trouble fighting for the win. I don’t think he’s feeling any pressure yet.

    1. @jackysteeg Your thinking is correct as Max said openly during the Qualify run if i have to overdrive i am going to hit the wall. Which happens as the car is not for curbs build and no setup is going to fix this.

      But on the classic circuits i do expect the RB20 on top again.

  7. Sainz’s wishful thinking

  8. It’s so refreshing to have three teams fighting for wins again.

    1. Absolutely.. a bit of bad luck for Max maybe (vs the 8 years Lewis had a dominating car), but all the better for us!

  9. [x] doubt. The RB20 is not a car that excels at bumpy tracks. On slow speed they need to avoid the kerbs as the car bounces off. In Imola the car was set up too stiff for the bumps. The upcoming races will have none of these kind of kerbs. McLaren and Ferrari will likely be closer, but we’re getting to more regular wider and flatter tracks where the RB20 excelled earlier this season. I fully expect Red Bull to dominate once again in Barcelona, RB Ring, Silverstone, Hungary and Belgium. Montreal depends on the state of the track.

  10. It sounds a bit optimistic.

    In Miami, Verstappen picked up some damage and had race control not completely fumbled the SC deployment he was still the favourite to win.
    In Imola, Verstappen built up a sufficient lead and let Norris close up without ever being under direct threat. It was somewhat unusual in that he prefers to keep a bigger gap, though.
    In Monaco, he might well have qualified right in the mix between the McLaren and Ferrari drivers had he not made that mistake.

    Still – two meaningful mistakes and a less than ideal gap at the end in the race that he won. It’s not as smooth sailing as it was in 2023.

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