There is regret in the Ferrari box. With Red Bull at half service (after Sergio Perez’s departure) there was the possibility for the Scuderia to snatch something more in the Melbourne qualifying, and instead the final result was a fifth and a seventh place. respectively with Sainz and Leclerc. At the end of the session, both drivers spoke of a missed opportunity, obviously not for pole, but for a top-3 finish. A goal that appeared within reach in Q2, which ended with Carlos Sainz jr. and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth position.
Complicating the Scuderia’s afternoon was the threat of rain five minutes from the end of Q3, when all the drivers were in the pits to fit the last set of softs. In Ferrari there was probably excessive alarm, and the drivers were told via radio to launch after just one warm-up lap. Leclerc complied, starting to push at the end of the out lap, but it wasn’t optimal in terms of tire management. In addition, Charles found Sainz in the first sector proceeding at a reduced pace, having decided on his own initiative to complete a second warm-up lap before setting off.
Even Sainz himself didn’t have it easy. The decision to do a second warm-up lap forced him to slow down in some points of the track to give way to those coming up behind him, and this caused the tire temperatures to drop. “When I launched I lost a couple of tenths in the first sector – confirmed Carlos – and this cost me a place in the top-3. They told me that behind me there were riders who finished on their flying lap, but that was only the case for some, and the slowdown cost me a drop in tire temperature”.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images
Leclerc then made a self-criticism, also highlighting his lack in the session. “When you get to Q3 you have to put everything together already on the first lap – explained Charles – then, of course, we could have done better with better communication, but I didn’t do a great job. I’m not particularly happy with how I drove, the feeling in the car was quite good, but I put it all together too late.”
For Ferrari, the race promises to be uphill. Even without Perez we will have to roll up our sleeves to aim for the first podium of the season, the real goal of the Australian away match. “I can confirm that I feel at ease – Sainz confirmed – I think we’ve made good progress in terms of feeling with the car by making a lot of changes on the set-up front. The goal is to improve the situation especially in view of the race, so let’s look forward to tomorrow”.
Both Ferrari drivers will have a set of hard tires and one new medium tire available tomorrow. After the FP3 session, in which both Leclerc and Sainz had used one set of softs less than their direct rivals, it was assumed that the Scuderia’s strategy aimed to save a set of ‘reds’ in view of the race, but in qualifying both the drivers used five sets of softs, mounting a second set in Q2 to avoid the risks associated with the evolution of the track.
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