Carlos Sainz thought he was set to take his first pole position in Formula 1 after the first Q3 runs at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix before being pushed down to third place.
The Spaniard had been quickest throughout the first two parts of qualifying and set the fastest time on the first runs in Q3 to sit on provisional pole position with one attempt left. Given Sainz had set that first time on used tires, a gain should have been possible but he said a lack of confidence on fresh rubber cost him a maiden pole as Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc went faster.
“I thought pole was on after…the first run of Q3, as I knew I had done the lap on a used tire and for some reason I feel better on the used tire than…the new tire which in the end has probably cost me pole position,” Sainz said.
“Doing my fastest lap of qualifying in Q3 Run 1 with the used [tire] and not being able to improve on the new is what I need to dig into with the team and see why the new tire is giving us those extra snaps of oversteer in high speed [corners]. In the end, they take out a lot of confidence and don’t allow you to improve.
“Overall quite pleased but fair play to Checo for the mega lap he did and Charles for nearly beating him.”
Despite missing out on pole for the second grand prix in a row, Sainz says he is in a happier place with his Ferrari after struggling in race trim in Bahrain last weekend.
“I have been trying different things, especially on Friday. I played with the setup a lot more than a normal Friday to explore the car a bit. Fridays will be a bit more on that side — experimental — to try and understand the car and put it a bit more to my liking. Then qualifying I put everything together to be quite strong.
“Probably this weekend — especially qualifying — felt stronger than Bahrain. Now I will see if I can replicate this pace in the race, which should be possible. I’m excited to see what progress we’ve done.”