Carlos Sainz says the “weaknesses of the car came alive at a circuit like this” after a torrid Spanish Grand Prix for Ferrari.
Home hero Sainz stuck his SF-23 on the front row in Barcelona – but while he briefly challenged poleman Max Verstappen for the lead at Turn 1 on the opening lap, he’d spend the rest of Sunday looking in his mirrors and desperately managing his rubber.
He was easily picked off by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the second stint and found himself comfortably dispatched by both Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
This left Sainz in a lonely fifth place for the remainder of the race, the Spaniard eventually finishing 10 seconds adrift of Perez – who had started nine places behind him on the grid.
“Honestly I just spent the whole race managing tyres because we know we are very hard on them,” Sainz said after the race.
“With this high-deg circuit I just couldn’t push, we know it’s a weakness of our car and coming to a high-deg circuit and a two-stop race we were just managing the whole way, trying to make it to the target laps of the stint and still falling short of some of them.
“The weaknesses of the car coming alive at a circuit like this, with the high-speed corners and how hard we are on tyres.
“Also shows yesterday we must have done a pretty good lap, I think today was again a bit back to where the car is in race pace. Probably this sort of track is not great for us.”
Barcelona marked the debut of a significant Ferrari upgrade but Sainz said it was “difficult to tell” when asked by The Race if the car felt any better compared to previous races.
“I know the factory did a tremendous effort to bring them,” Sainz added. “Probably we brought them to our weakest track of the season because of the characteristics of the track.
“Probably we haven’t seen the best of them yet. I still believe with the bouncing and the high-speed weakness we had we were never going to be very competitive around here so it’s too early to tell.”
Sainz said the “biggest surprise” was the pace of the Mercedes, with Ferrari finishing “more or less” where it had in Miami – Sainz finished 42.5s off the lead there and 45.6s off the lead in Barcelona.
“It’s just suddenly Mercedes has slotted in between us,” Sainz remarked.
“I don’t know what happened to Aston today,” he added after Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso finished in sixth and seventh, the first time the team has failed to finish inside the top five this year.
He also said it showed how much has changed in the past 12 months that his team-mate Charles Leclerc couldn’t even make it back into the points from his pitlane start.
“Last year we would have made it back to the top four, top five starting from pitlane.
“This year field is tighter and it’s more difficult to make your way through. Work to do. Analysis to be done on this package.
“I trust that what we did is the right direction, now we need to start addressing our weaknesses with the bouncing, with the high-speed, and with this new package and direction hopefully we can start bringing performance.”