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Ferrari drivers explain disappointing Qatar Qualifying performance

Carlos Sainz was knocked out in Q2 and Charles Leclerc could only manage P5

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Both Ferrari drivers gave reasons for their lack of pace during Friday Qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix.

Sainz couldn’t get to grips with his SF23 throughout the entire session (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

The Scuderia have failed to match the highs of the Singapore Grand Prix, where Carlos Sainz Jr. broke Red Bull’s streak of successive victories. Although the Italian outfit took the fight to nearest rivals Mercedes around Suzuka the following week, it seems they have taken a step back this weekend around the Losail International Circuit.

Sainz couldn’t wrestle his SF23 out of Q2, while teammate Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s main race on the third row of the grid. This is despite an impressive outing in the earlier practice session, where the Ferrari pair finished second and third. Both drivers gave differing explanations for their off-colour performances.

First of all, Sainz admitted that he wasn’t particularly surprised to be knocked out in the second phase of Qualifying. The Spaniard explained to the media: “I had a very difficult quali, right from the beginning. Just struggling with the balance. The rear was very, very loose.”

The 29-year-old blamed falling track temperatures: “When the track dropped this afternoon, I just couldn’t find any grip out there, so I just struggled quite heavily, so I’m not surprised to be out in Q2.”

He continued by stating that he hopes to find the cause of his troubles as soon as possible so he can have an overall positive weekend: “Hopefully we can turn it around for tomorrow, the Sprint, and have a better Saturday.”

“But definitely Sunday’s going to be tricky, starting from so far back in a difficult track to overtake. But my main focus now is to try and see what we can do better tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc also struggled in Qualifying

Leclerc wasn’t happy with his Qualifying either, and believes he could have made it onto the front row for the Grand Prix were it not for a technical issue on his second flying lap.

The Monegasque explained: “We had an issue in the high-speed on the fast lap, which made me downshift flat-out, which wasn’t great. We lost quite a bit there.”

2022’s vice-Champion was forced to abort his first timed lap in Q3 after falling foul of track limits, as many did on the tricky high-speed corners of the Losail International Circuit. This meant Leclerc had just one opportunity to set a competitive time on the board.

Just like Sainz, he also couldn’t find the grip that he was expecting out of his car: “It was quite tough to get the tyres to work today: on the first flying lap the rears were not working as expected and the situation only improved when you continued to push, which is not ideal in qualifying.”

“All in all we maximised with what we had, we just need to work tomorrow to try and find the pace straight away.”

Saturday sees both Qualifying for the Sprint and the race itself, taking place at 14:00 and 18:30 BST respectively.

Feature Image Credit: XPB Images

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