P4 for last year’s polesitter Sainz at COTA: “I was struggling a bit in the last sector”

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Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Despite being the somewhat stronger performing Ferrari driver of late, Carlos Sainz must settle for being outqualified by his teammate Charles Leclerc on Friday at the Circuit of the Americas who stuck his SF-23 on pole after Max Verstappen’s final flying lap time was deleted for a track limits violation. Sainz was on pole for last years United States Grand Prix but could only manage P4 this time out. He shares the second row with Lewis Hamilton in P3 and ahead of the other Mercedes of George Russell who was 5th fastest.

The Spaniard who has been enjoying a decent run of form since the summer break suggested that perhaps the lack of practice sessions contributed to his lack of ultimate pace during Fridays qualifying session:

“It’s been a normal quali but I was just struggling a bit in the last sector, lacking one or two tenths in that part of the lap. Everywhere else I felt good. Obviously it’s a little bit tough to set up the car to my liking with only one FP1 session so maybe theres some work to do there before tomorrow but in general we put together some decent laps.”

Sainz, currently the highest scoring of the Ferrari pairing this year went on the congratulate his teammate on the pole position and point out what that pole means for the team:

“It’s great news for the team to know that we can also be on pole on these kind of tracks.”

When asked if he can iron out the few setup issues and nail down the final few tenths to perhaps claim P1 for the Sprint he replied:

“I need to focus on my driving and any bit we can change in the car going into tomorrow to see if we can improve that second part of the lap that seems to be my weakness this weekend, it’s interesting because last year it was where I made pole with a good last sector and this weekend I’m struggling so it just shows year to year limitations, wind changing, balance everywhere I need to focus on that for tomorrow.”

The Ferrari driver’s fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso does not currently have as strong a race car as he enjoyed earlier in the season and is now 30 points ahead of Sainz in the championship. With the Ferrari looking pacy this weekend in Austin and the Aston Martin’s way off the pace, Sainz may well close in on overtaking his countryman with a decent points haul over the Sprint and Grand Prix.