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Formula 1

What Sainz needs ‘protection’ from after run of crashes

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Carlos Sainz’s spate of crashes has left the Ferrari Formula 1 driver seeking a way to “protect” himself from the car’s tendency to be “a bit loose” mid-corner.

Sainz had a heavy impact with the wall at Ascari during second practice at Monza for last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

It was his third big crash in four events, although none have come during a grand prix: he crashed in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, in final practice at Zandvoort and in FP2 at Monza.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Sprint Day Monza, Italy

An apparent trend in Sainz’s crashes is that they have come at events where he has been very competitive compared to team-mate Charles Leclerc over one lap.

Sainz’s Hungary crash came after he outpaced Leclerc in final practice, he recovered from the shunt at Zandvoort to set an almost identical time to Leclerc in qualifying, and he had outpaced Leclerc in Monza’s qualifying session before shunting on a long run in the Saturday practice session.

That suggests Sainz could be taking his Ferrari closer to the limit and is being caught out. Sainz points out that the three accidents do have clear differences – he encountered “one of the biggest gusts of wind in my life” at the Hungaroring, for example, and was slightly off-line into Turn 3 at Zandvoort.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Dutch Grand Prix Qualifying Day Zandvoort, Netherlands

But he does believe there is a correlation between the accidents in the fact he lost the car mid-corner each time and has admitted he is still trying to get on top of the SF21’s traits.

“I’ve been pretty near the limit of the car in every weekend this year,” he said at Monza.

“It’s been very close with Charles and I know he’s at the limit. But it’s a fine edge on this car, the rear sometimes a bit loose on the mid-corner.

“If you look at it, it’s where I lose the car pretty much in the last few times.

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“I need to understand if I can do something with my driving, and with my set-up, to protect myself a bit from that.

“I’m pushing hard, because obviously I can feel the car underneath me.

“I can push it harder on entries, but the mid corner is something that has caught me by surprise and is something I need to look into.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Monza, Italy

Sainz has described the Ferrari as “neutral” mid-corner.

He has admitted that he needs to be more careful getting on the throttle in that situation and that his confidence at Monza was dented by his crash, so he needed to rebuild it through the sprint race that followed it on Saturday afternoon.

Sainz found the exact cause of the Ascari accident hard to identify and to explain at the weekend. He even said after qualifying it was “one of the strange ones that I’ll probably look back on for the rest of my life thinking ‘what happened there?’”.

“It’s a weird thing, not the first time that this happens with this car, with myself, I’ve lost this car at the rear a couple of times,” he said.

“It must be probably something going on that I’m not entirely feeling underneath me.

“I’ve never had a moment there and I’ve never really crashed there in anything.

“I struggled the whole weekend in that corner with the rear but you never expect to lose it in the middle of the corner in the way that I did.

“It’s something to understand, especially for me to look into and see if I can keep understanding the car, feel the rear axle a bit better in the mid corner.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Race Day Monza, Italy

Despite the crashes, Sainz continues to have a good first season at Ferrari.

He is 2.5 points behind Leclerc in the championship, having fallen behind due to Leclerc’s fourth place at Monza while Sainz was sixth.

Though he admitted the crashes have “cost the mechanics and the team a few late nights lately” Sainz said he was “sure it will not happen again anytime soon and I will recover from it”.

“But it’s something that I need to keep investigating and trying to learn from because it’s not ideal,” he added.

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