Carlos Sainz has criticised Ferrari‘s race pace following the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix which saw the team convert a front-row lockout in qualifying into a third and fourth place finish.
Red Bull and Mercedes proved to be in another class to the Italian team in the second half of the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez by opening up gaps of 23 and 10 seconds respectively over Charles Leclerc, despite both starting the 71-lap race behind Ferrari.
It is a story that has plagued the team since a technical directive (TD039) was introduced at the 2022 Belgian GP as they continue a habit of taking pole positions, but being far slower than their rivals in race trim.
“It’s been the case the whole year. We can fight them in qualifying, we can beat them in qualifying,” Sainz told the media. “But then come the race we’re two, three, sometimes four tenths off the pace. Today it was six tenths at this track.
“It is the main weakness of the car and where we are focusing on. I don’t think we struggled with our [tyre] degradation and we just struggled with the race pace of the car.
“Once the tyres are in overheating, once the tires more worn out, you don’t have the peak of soft tyre helping you to turn the car and to help with the traction, and our car is now in a much weaker state, and that’s where the Red Bull and Mercedes are quicker.”
Sainz justifies Russell defence
Ferrari have taken six poles in 2023 and converted them into just one win and after the 2022 mid-season technical directive, they took four poles for zero wins last year. It’s an overall conversion rate of just 10 percent since last year’s race in Spa-Francorchamps.
Following the restart on Lap 36 in Mexico, Sainz came under intense pressure from George Russell on medium tyres. Although he managed to successfully hold his position to the chequered flag, Russell had complained on the radio about him moving under-braking, which is illegal.
“I was moving once, right before braking, which is what the rules allow,” Sainz said. “You cannot move under braking, but you can move right before breaking and that’s what I was doing.
“I think it’s the same as always when you’re behind, you open the radio you complain so the guy in front gets a warning or a five-second penalty because it benefits you. I think it’s the same as always everyone does it, even George.”
When is the next F1 2023 race?
There isn’t much time for the teams to rest after the Mexico City GP as the circus heads on to Sao Paulo in Brazil to race at the historic Interlagos circuit.
Russell won the race in 2022, taking his maiden victory in the sport, and every race since 2018 has seen a battle between the Mercedes and Red Bull cars so will 2023 be the same?
Find out with Total-Motorsport.com as the Brazilian GP takes place from November 3-5.