There was regret in the Ferrari garage at the end of the qualifying session for the 2023 Formula 1 Australian GP. Given the fact that Red Bull had only one driver in Q3 (after Sergio Perez’s error eliminated him in Q1) there was the possibility for the Scuderia to snatch something more in the Melbourne qualifying, and instead the final result was a fifth and a seventh place respectively for Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. At the end of the session, both drivers spoke of a missed opportunity, obviously not for pole, but for a top-3 finish.
A goal that appeared within reach in Q2, which ended with Carlos Sainz jr. and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth position.
Complicating the Maranello team’s afternoon at the 5.278-kilometre Albert Park Circuit was the threat of rain five minutes from the end of Q3, when all the drivers were in the pits to fit the last set of softs. In Ferrari there was probably excessive concern, and the drivers were told via radio to perform their flying lap after just one warm-up lap. Charles Leclerc complied, starting to push at the end of the out lap, but it wasn’t optimal for tire management. In addition, Charles found Carlos in the first sector proceeding at a reduced pace, having decided on his own initiative to complete a second warm-up lap before setting off.
Even Carlos Sainz himself didn’t have it easy. The decision to do a second warm-up lap forced him to slow down in some points of the track to give way to those coming up behind him, and this caused the tire temperatures to drop. “When I launched I lost a couple of tenths in the first sector – confirmed Carlos – and this cost me a place in the top-3. They told me that there were drivers behind me who were finishing on their flying lap, but that was only the case for some, and the slowdown cost me a drop in tire temperature” – the Spaniard explained.
Charles Leclerc then also admitted to not performing at his highest level in today’s qualifying session, also highlighting that there was room for improvement:
“When you get to Q3 you have to put everything together already on the first lap – explained Charles – then, of course, we could have done better in terms of communication, but I didn’t do a great job. I’m not particularly happy with how I drove, the feeling in the car was quite good, but I put it all together too late.” – he admitted.
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For Ferrari, the race promises to be an uphill battle. Even without Sergio Perez in the first part of the race, Scuderia Ferrari will have to roll up its sleeves to aim for the first podium of the 2023 Formula 1 season, the real goal for the Maranello team in the Australian Grand Prix: “I can confirm that I feel at ease – explained Carlos Sainz – I think we made good progress in terms of feeling with the car by making a lot of changes on the set-up front. The goal is to improve the situation especially in view of the race, so let’s look forward to tomorrow.” – he added.
Both Ferrari drivers will have a set of hard tires and one new medium tire available tomorrow. After the FP3 session, in which both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had used one set of softs less than their direct rivals, it was assumed that the Scuderia’s strategy aimed to save a set of red tyres in view of the race, but in qualifying both drivers used five sets of softs, mounting a second set in Q2 to avoid the risks associated with track evolution.
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