Carlos Sainz admits that he pushed too hard to recover lost ground early in the Australian Grand Prix, resulting in going off onto the grass at Turn 9 and spinning into the gravel on lap two because he “didn’t react accordingly” to a poor start to the race.
Sainz started the race down in ninth place after a qualifying he described as a “disaster,” with the red flag triggered by Fernando Alonso’s crash in Q3 ruining his first run. He was then only able to do one lap on his second Q3 run thanks to the Ferrari team struggling to start his car. As a result, he couldn’t do an extra preparation lap so struggled on his lap with a lack of tire temperature and therefore grip.
A late steering wheel change meant that the replacement wasn’t configured for the start and he suffered from anti-stall at the start and dropped to 13th immediately. He was then forced wide while battling with Yuki Tsunoda, which allowed Haas driver Mick Schumacher to get ahead. That left Sainz in 14th place
Sainz then passed Schumacher into the fast Turn 9/10 left/right on lap two, but carried too much speed into the corner, running across the grass and spinning across the track. He ended up in the gravel at the exit of Turn 10 and despite requests for the marshals to push him back onto the track, was forced to retire.
“I need to be hard on myself for a driving mistake,” said Sainz. “We’re still getting to know these tires and the hard tire this weekend was tricky in the initial laps and I shouldn’t have pushed as [hard as] I’ve been pushing.
“It’s an easy conclusion. I shouldn’t have pushed so much and I should have stayed patient. But at the same time, we were not perfect as a team.
“[There have been] too many steering issues, anti-stall problems and the quali, which meant it puts you on the back foot. It puts you under pressure and I didn’t react accordingly.”
Sainz explained that the steering wheel problem was similar to the one that struck in Q3, leading to a change just a minute before the start of the race. This change meant a poor start, which was compounded by the struggles to get the hard tires working early.
“We had similar problems with the switches in the car as yesterday – some switches not working,” said Sainz. “We had to change the steering wheel one minute before the start, which meant the second steering wheel wasn’t properly configured for the start.
“I had the wrong start map setting which was giving me anti-stall in both starts, which meant unfortunately we triggered anti-stall. We went backwards on the hard tire and then with the rush of wanting to come back through the field, I made a driving mistake.”
Sainz’s retirement means he has just 33 points, putting him 38 points behind team-mate and championship leader Charles Leclerc.