Miami’s qualifying pace confirms that Baku is my ‘weirdest’ F1 weekend ever – Motorsport Week
Carlos Sainz claims his strong qualifying performance in Miami confirmed his suspicion that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was probably his ‘weirdest’ Formula 1 weekend ever.
One of several riders caught by the sprint format by taking a wrong route during setup, Sainz struggled with rear end instability all weekend at Baku, qualifying over half a second behind Charles Leclerc and finishing that Running 25 seconds behind his teammate.
However, the Spaniard put in his best qualifying performance of the year in Miami, finishing third for today’s race.
When asked if he was much happier with the car this weekend, Sainz replied: “Yes, definitely. It was that feeling again that I had in Australia.
“So yeah, it kind of confirms that Baku was a runaway and a very weird weekend for me. Probably the strangest of my F1 career – I won’t lie – and the toughest.
“But now, back in Miami, right after FP1 the feeling was back to normal. I was on pace, I was on pace from FP2 to FP3 and built it up through qualifying.
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t get the best performance out of the car today, because there was definitely a lot more to it. But yeah, with the red flags and stuff and the new tires being so pointy here, it’s always difficult to put them together.”
Sainz claims his struggles in Baku gave him peace of mind that something is amiss and believes the pace he’s shown since taking to the track in Miami on Friday proves last weekend wasn’t was representative of his current level of performance.
“We’ve changed a few things, but it’s hard to understand this sport sometimes,” he admitted. i won’t lie It’s a very difficult sport to understand.
“Sometimes you just put the car out on the track and there are things that don’t work or don’t feel like they should and yes we have tons of sensors, tons of data but sometimes it’s very difficult to pinpoint realize what’s happening but I was so sure and after Baku so convinced that something wasn’t quite right that it kind of confirms the fact that this weekend everything feels back to normal and I’m back there in terms of pure pace , where I was in Melbourne.”
Meanwhile, in the sister Ferrari, Leclerc finished qualifying in the same barrier at Turn 7 that he had previously found at the end of Friday’s FP2 session.
Leclerc’s fall brought out the red flag and denied Sainz an opportunity to improve his initial efforts to potentially beat Fernando Alonso to a front row seat.
However, Sainz sympathizes with his teammate’s repeated incident, citing that Ferrari’s SF-23 car is constantly on the razor’s edge due to the high-speed corners.
“It’s very difficult, yes,” he admitted. “I also had my moments in FP3 through the high-speed section, which kind of confirms that the car is just really difficult around there.
“We have a very peaky car, a very, shall we say, unstable car at high speeds that sometimes causes mistakes – in this case accidents – but both Charles and I tried everything to push the car to the limit, around taking it where the car deserves, which I think is just behind the Red Bulls this weekend.
“But yeah, in Q3 I didn’t have the best lap in race one and Fernando [Alonso] hit us So yes, we’re going to make sure we’re trying to get the car to do what it can.”
Despite Max Verstappen starting seventh, Red Bull’s pace advantage means Sainz expects the reigning world champion to get through the field easily.
With the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez on pole, the Spaniard, who is targeting his first top-three result of 2023, predicts his main battle will be with Alonso for the final spot on the podium.
Sainz is also hoping that more grip on the outside line at the start will allow him to overtake his compatriot at the start after falling victim to an inside line start at the inaugural Miami GP last year.
“I think it will be an interesting start,” he assures. “I think it’s always around here.
“I think last year there was also a decent inside/outside difference at Turn 1 and we’ll see how that develops, right? But I think we’re fighting the Astons… who’s behind me, P4? Magnussen? Interesting! Kevin, weird, but he can pull it off sometimes, as we’ve seen many times.
He added: “I think with Fernando and for sure Max will come from behind and pass both of us, that should normally happen because in race pace we’ve seen how we’ve seen six, eight tenths difference this year in a race of around 50 Rounding is a big, big gap.