Sainz admits Ferrari were always going to be exposed at Suzuka

Carlos Sainz qualified sixth, two places behind Charles Leclerc at the 2023 Japanese GP

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Carlos Sainz has admitted Suzuka was always going to expose Ferrari after they failed to qualify in the top three at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, following their win at the Singapore GP.

It seems the status quo in Formula 1 has returned at Suzuka, as Red Bull and Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in qualifying on Saturday, claiming a dominant pole position while Charles Leclerc was fourth and Sainz was sixth.

“We knew when we were coming here that this track would expose us a bit more,” Sainz told the media. “Probably with the high speed characteristics but also the long corners high winds like we’re having today it was never going to be easy.

“I think the approach Friday and Saturday morning, we tried different things on the car, we tried to change the balance quite a bit and try different things to try and put the car in a different place.”

Setup wasn’t working

Sainz and Leclerc trialled different setups during Friday, more in line with their Zandvoort experiments, before putting full focus into optimising their cars ahead of qualifying.

The Spaniard thinks Ferrari maximised their qualifying result due to the pace of Red Bull and McLaren at Suzuka.

“By qualifying it [the setup] was not quite working, and we had to go back to a more basic setup which ended up compromising my qualifying preparation and my weekend in general,” Sainz explained.

“But I’m happy to try those things and focus on Sunday and see if we can have a good race. I don’t think we could have done much more, because honestly the McLarens and Red Bulls are much quicker.”

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