Sainz blames his disappointing F1 Japanese GP qualifying result on a late setup U-turn

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The Singapore Grand Prix showed Carlos Sainz’s cunning driving skills, earning the only non-Red Bull win in this season so far. However, Suzuka is proving to be somewhat challenging for the Ferrari driver, lining up in the sixth position whilst his teammate, Charles Leclerc, starts in fourth.

Carlos Sainz
Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Sainz’s approach to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend was marked by a willingness to experiment with the car’s setup once again. He admitted that he was inspired to take on this approach, driven by the expectation that the Ferrari might be less competitive at Suzuka compared to other circuits. This experimentation, while bold, did not yield the desired results for Sainz, saying: “It was never going to be easy. I took the approach yesterday and this morning to try different things on the car.

“We knew before coming here that this track would expose us a bit more, probably with the high-speed characteristics, but also the long corners, high winds like we’re having today, it was never going to be easy.

“I took the approach yesterday and this morning to try different things on the car, try to change the balance quite a bit, and try different things on setup to try and put the car a bit in a different place.

However, it was clear that the experimental setup was not producing the anticipated performance by the time qualifying rolled around. Sainz and his team made the decision to return to a more traditional setup, but this change in strategy had a price. Sainz acknowledged that the alterations he made “distracted” him and gave him inadequate time to completely adapt to them. He added: “By the time of quali I saw that it was not quite working, and we had to go back to a more basic set-up, which in the end probably ended up compromising my quali preparation and my weekend in general.

“But I’m happy to try those things, and now focus on tomorrow, see if we can do a good race. I don’t think we could have done much more because honestly the McLarens and the Red Bulls this weekend, they look one step quicker.”

The Spanish driver was three-tenths off of his teammate, he went on to praise his teammate’s performance, while explaining that he messed up the first sector on his last lap: “Charles must have done a very good job but also I didn’t get a clean sector one in my last lap, which probably accentuated a bit the difference,”

“But, I’d say he’s been a tenth or two quicker all weekend and probably me being a bit distracted trying so many setups and never really getting into a rhythm didn’t help.”