Sainz approves the updated SF-23 after P3 in quali: “Back to the feeling I had in Australia”

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Photo credits: Scuderia Ferrari

Best qualifying result of the season so far for Carlos Sainz, who will start the Miami Grand Prix from P3.

Only one run for him in Q3 – as the session was cut short following a red flag caused by his teammate Charles Leclerc – that set a 1’27”349, enough to put him up there behind pole sitter Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso.

“A bit of a pity that we couldn’t extract all the performance of the car because there was definitely a lot more in it,” he commented in the press conference after quali.

“But with the red flag and the new tires being so picky around here it was difficult to put it together.”

After a quite difficult weekend in Baku and a tricky first part of the season, when he was finding his Ferrari hard to drive, the Spaniard now seems much happier with the new set-up.

“It’s been back to the feeling I had in Australia, so yes it kind of confirms that Baku was an outlier, an average strange weekend for me. The strangest – probably – in my F1 career, I’m not gonna lie and the toughest.

“But now in Miami the feeling straight away from FP1 was back to normal. I was in the pace, I’ve been in the pace since FP1, FP2, FP3 leading up through qualifying.”

An improvement that came with the debut of the first package of updates the team has planned for this season.

“We have changed a few things [ compared to Baku] but it’s a tough sport to comprehend sometimes. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a very tough sport to understand.

“Sometimes you just put the car on track and there are things that are not working or not feeling how they should and yes we have tons of sensors, tons of data but it is still very difficult to spot exactly what’s happening.”

“But I was so sure after Baku that there was something that was not quite right.”

Despite the improvements, however, it is still “very difficult” to drive around the Miami Autodrome, explained Sainz.

“I had my moments in the high speed section in FP3, which kind of confirms that the car around there is very tricky. We have a very peaky car, very unstable in the high speed sections, sometimes it generates mistakes, in this case accidents,” he said referring to his teammate’s spin.

“Both Charles and I were trying everything we could to put the car on the limit, to put it where the car deserves to be – which this weekend in my opinion is just behind the Red Bulls. In Q3 I didn’t have the best lap in the first run.”

The car to look out for in tomorrow’s race is undoubtedly the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, who is – not coincidentally – standing third on the drivers’ championship, ahead of him only the two Red Bulls.

“We are fighting the Aston and Magnussen who is behind me – a strange one but he can pull it off sometimes like we have seen. I think Fernando – and Max who will come from behind and pass us both because as we’ve seen this year in race pace there are 6 or 8 tenths of difference which is a big gap.

“The plan at the start is to attack and get as many positions as possible – and normally what we’ve seen this year is that Aston and Fernando are a bit quicker in race pace than we are, because they take better care of tyres.

“They have this thing – whatever it is – that we are still trying to find to improve our car. But let’s see where we are after lap 1 and in the end. As Fernando said, we will finish the race where we deserve ”