Carlos Sainz says the 2023 Ferrari car lacks consistency and predictability, but has praised the qualifying strengths of the SF-23 that gives the team the chance to fight for podiums.
Ferrari has been very hit and miss in 2023’s Formula 1 season. At some races they were very competitive such as Bahrain, Spa and Austria, but at others have fallen short such as Hungary or Spain.
Whilst this may seem as though the car is stronger on the power-related circuits and weaker on the high-downforce tracks, Sainz said that this is contrary to what Ferrari anticipates from their current package.
“This year we’ve lost like some consistency from the car,” Sainz said to the media ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix. “It is very difficult to predict which circuits we’re going to be quick on and which we’re not going to be quick.
“I think the best example was the difference between Hungary and Spa. We expected Hungary to be a good weekend. We expected Spa to be a weaker one and was actually the opposite.
“It shows that there is maybe something intrinsically that we don’t fully understand and we cannot predict very well.”
Ferrari have struggled to control the balance of the car in 2023. At the Miami GP, the team noted that the balance varied from tyre to tyre throughout the race, even on the same compound.
Whilst at the Spanish GP, Charles Leclerc was eliminated in the first round of qualifying as he simply could not find any pace at all marking a very uncharacteristic session for both car and driver.
Despite the struggles, there are promising sides to it such as their qualifying performance that has seen them claim two pole positions in 2023. Their poles in Azerbaijan and Spa are the most of any non-Red Bull car with Leclerc having as many poles as Sergio Perez this season.
“On the good side of things, the car always offers some good opportunities in qualifying,” Sainz added to the media. “To qualify a bit ahead of what the race pace of the car might be.
“If you do a good lap in quality, maybe you can hold on to a podium place if you can have a smooth race without too many troubles.
“Focus will be getting the car quick in the race mainly and try to hold on to those good qualifying sessions if we have the opportunity.”
Sainz doesn’t know how Ferrari will fare at Zandvoort
In 2022 Ferrari qualified with Leclerc in second, and third with Sainz who was just 0.092 seconds down on pole, showing the strength their car had around Zandvoort.
But, twelve months on, Sainz does not know how the team will perform around the high-downforce, fast and twisty circuit.
“I don’t know. Because if you look at the track, you could say you should be a better one for us,” Sainz added. “But then you look at Hungary it wasn’t, so it is extremely difficult to predict right now for us this year.
“Also, I think the fact that they feel this so tight you know with Mercedes and now McLaren joining us. There is still obviously Aston Martin and obviously Red Bull ahead of us.
“They were all within a tenth or two tenths of each other every quali and every race and if you’re going to come out on top of or behind that battle it means you can qualify second, third or qualify nineth.
“So this performance swing, or the let’s say the result for such a small performance swing, is huge so I think it will be tight again this weekend.”