Carlos Sainz admitted Ferrari‘s tyre degradation problems are masking a bigger problem with the SF-23, after he dropped from the front row to fifth in the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.
After the chequered flag in Barcelona, Sainz said he’d spent the whole race managing his tyres, but ahead of the Canadian GP he said Ferrari‘s overall race pace was an even bigger issue.
“We keep talking a lot about tyres and degradation,” Sainz told the media. “But I think there’s more of a fundamental problem with race pace now, rather than just degradation. My analysis, or the team’s analysis, is that we just lack race pace at the moment.
“We need to make a car that’s kinder on tyres, but also more consistent with the aero and it allows us to stay a bit more on the limit of the car during the whole race.”
Ferrari brought significant upgrades to the Spanish GP, moving away from their unique ‘bathtub’ sidepods to a concept that mirrors Red Bull‘s design plus bringing a new floor.
However, Sainz said after the race that Ferrari were still in the dark about the effectiveness, and was surprised at the pace of Mercedes.
“And at the moment it feels like we’re having to back off a bit,” Sainz added ahead of the Canadian GP. “We’re doing our best, every weekend we’re trying different things, we have new ideas, we have new bits on the car.
“Every weekend we try something with tyres or suspension so we cannot fault the fact that we’re trying everything and I’m sure we will get to the bottom of it.”
Sainz: Ferrari’s current problems began in 2022
Ferrari‘s 2023 struggles are in stark contrast to their 2022 season, when they made a winning return to the front of the F1 grid.
Sainz won the first race of his F1 career and Ferrari led the constructors’ championship by 39 points after the third race of the season, sat on nearly double Red Bull’s points total.
However, they only won two more races for the rest of the season as Red Bull pulled clear, and Sainz said the problems dogging them now had already raised their head by the end of 2022.
“We’re all frustrated, but also motivated to change,” Sainz said. “It’s something we started seeing towards the end of last year, when we were still sticking it on pole in Austin, and very close to polling in many circuits at the end of the year.
“But then we saw the race we were clearly behind. And this is a carryover but maybe an acceleration this year with the car that we have now, because at least last year, we could still have pole positions.”