Scuderia Ferrari Spanish driver Carlos Sainz remained unsatisfied with the balance and handling of his Ferrari SF-23 single-seater throughout the fourth round of the 2023 Formula One campaign, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which took place last weekend at the Baku City Circuit.
After being a lot slower (0.813 seconds) than his teammate Charles Leclerc in Friday’s qualifying session, he lagged behind by 0.59 seconds in the ‘Sprint Shootout,’ which determined the grid for Saturday’s sprint race at the Baku City Circuit, and had a major lock-up at turn 15. Carlos Sainz finished fifth in the first sprint event of the 2023 Formula 1 championship and later admitted to driving in “damage limitation” mode as he tried to get the most out of a weekend in which he did not feel comfortable with the SF-23 single-seater.
Due to his lack of confidence in the car, he drove cautiously during Sunday’s race. The Spaniard eventually had to settle for a fifth place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, almost 25 seconds behind his Ferrari teammate, after being passed by Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin following the Safety Car restart with an opportunistic move from the experienced driver:
“I think, seeing where Fernando finished, he was always going to finish ahead of me today,” Carlos Sainz admitted at the end of the race – “But nothing new, really. The first stint on the medium [compound tyre], I looked like I found a bit of pace back, and then as soon as I put the hard on my struggles of the weekend appeared again and I just had to bring home a fifth place. I was always very on the limit of crashing or feeling like I was losing the car,” Sainz admitted. “A pretty long race, and mentally stressful after the struggle of the weekend. Brought home the P5. I’m sure we will find out why this happened this weekend, and I’m sure in Miami we’ll be back in form.” – the Spaniard explained in one of his post-race interviews with the media following the Baku race.
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Some small changes made by the Ferrari technicians on the front wing of the SF-23 ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix start put the car’s balance “in a better place”, as confirmed by Carlos Sainz. Still, the Spaniard admitted that for him it was “a frustrating long weekend” on Sunday evening and is not focusing on extracting more pace from the SF-23 car in view of the next round of the Formula 1 championship, which is scheduled to take place in Miami in just a few days’ time:
“In a way, I find it positive that the next race is coming quickly, because I can get this one behind me very quickly. And on the other hand, obviously, I probably would need a bit more time. But we’ve turned it around in the past within three or four days, and I expect that we will do the same before Miami.” – the Ferrari man concluded.