Formula 1 Racing

Sainz in “damage limitation” mode as he lacks confidence · RaceFans

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Carlos Sainz Jnr admitted he’s experiencing difficulties with his car’s handling after finishing fifth in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race.

His Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc took pole position for the race – his second in as many days as he will also start tomorrow’s grand prix from the front. However Sainz lagged over half a second behind the team’s other car in both this weekend’s qualifying sessions.

“I have an explanation why, I clearly don’t feel comfortable and confident,” Sainz said after today’s sprint race. “If I would then I would just be lacking three tenths, half a second per lap. But I clearly don’t have the confidence.”

The reduction of practice to a single hour this weekend, due to the sprint format being used, has made it harder to solve the problem, said Sainz.

“I’m going to need more time after this weekend to really go deeper in the data, because now with this format you just simply don’t have time. You’re going into a quali, into a race into another quali, and it’s impossible to take conclusions or to change anything that would help me for sure get a bit more comfortable.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race in pictures

“So I’m a bit stuck. But as I said, it gets to a point where you just need to accept it. It’s one weekend in my life that I’m feeling this strange situation and at this point is more damage limitation.

“When you can change nothing in the car and you cannot really experiment to get yourself comfortable you are in for a difficult weekend like I am at now,” he added.

Sainz said he’s adapted to the car as far as he can. “I’ve done some steps with my driving and changing a few things to try to adapt myself to the balance that I have on the track. But it’s proving to be a very challenging weekend.

“At this point, knowing what the pace is this weekend, it’s more a damage limitation weekend for me than anything else. I’m really struggling out there with confidence, always feeling really on the limit of the rear axle and it’s not a nice feeling to have around Baku.”

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