Carlos Sainz says Ferrari feared a race like the French Grand Prix all season after both drivers dropped out of the points on pure pace.
Another strong qualifying saw Sainz start from fifth – the lead car behind the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers – while Charles Leclerc was seventh on the grid. However, both struggled with a serious lack of pace related to their tires throughout the race, with Sainz dropping to 11th and Leclerc two-stopping his way to 16th.[
“It’s been a tendency, and I’m not going to lie, it has been in the back of our minds a bit going to every race,” Sainz said. “We tend to struggle a bit in the races compared to qualifying, but I must say there have been a couple of weekends where this issue hasn’t appeared. For example, Barcelona, the race pace wasn’t an issue.
“It’s pretty clear we have a every narrow window of a working range on front tires and we tend to struggle a lot more with graining, and front wear, than our competitors and probably compared to the whole field, and it is now trying to understand why we have this narrow window and why do we struggle more.
“I’m sure the whole team will work extremely hard to try and address it as it is evident, it is obvious, you don’t need to be a genius to see we are clearly struggling.”
Despite those fears, Sainz believes the team was much more confident ahead of Sunday’s race at Paul Ricard given the performance it was able to show during Friday practice.
“On Friday, we didn’t face this issue and were probably inside that narrow window of performance we had, and looked very strong on race pace, and our front wear numbers didn’t look bad, we were actually looking reasonable, that’s why (on Saturday night) we went to bed very confident.
“On the laps to the grid the track was very, very tricky. I actually had a moment – it told me the track was on different conditions but it is not an excuse. The others, with very different conditions, a track one-and-a-half second slower than Friday, they didn’t have graining, we just have a narrower window of performance and we need to work on our tire understanding to see how we can make this window wider and better.”
Moving on from last weekend. There’s another opportunity this week 💪
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) June 21, 2021
Team principal Mattia Binotto ruled out the increased tire pressures at the French Grand Prix as a reason for the problems.
“I don’t think it has any impact,” Binotto said. “If I look at the prescriptions it has been raised at the rear and we had the issue on the front. So, in terms of running those, nothing has changed for us and I don’t think the prescriptions at the rear has been the problem. The answer is a pretty clear no.”