Carlos Sainz’s weekend at the last Australian Grand Prix was one of the worst since he joined the Ferrari team in 2021. The Madrid native had always finished with those from Maranello, and in just two appointments he was left without points, reaching get on the podium six times in the 25 races in which he had participated.
However, from qualifying, the Spaniard had luck against him, as a red flag just four seconds from crossing the finish line and setting a time left him with a single bullet in the chamber in Q3.
If Sainz hadn’t come across that, he would have set a valid time to be on the front row of the grid, because he was just over two tenths behind his teammate, Charles Leclerc.
The Ferrari man spent the whole weekend testing in free practice, where he concluded that he needed to do two warm-up laps to put the tires in the correct operating window in Melbourne.
A few seconds after taking Sainz out on the track, the engine of his F1-75 did not start as it should, so that delay in returning to the asphalt meant that he did not have the time necessary to shoot the extra lap and warm up the tires.
With all the pressure of risking it on one try and without having the compounds as he would like, the Madrid native also made a mistake at turn 10, something that he recognized instantly on the radio with a “what a fucking disaster”. Finally, he could only be 9th on the grid, so Sunday seemed complicated.
On the morning of the race, the team decided to go out with the alternative strategy, that is, mount the hardest tires first, instead of the medium, the option most chosen by the rivals.
However, before the start, those from Maranello changed the steering wheel of their car, and on the warm-up lap, Sainz practiced a snatch test. It’s not so often that drivers rev the car to the limit at the moment, and even less often do start tests here, but circumstances led the man from Madrid to do so.
To this we must add that, in an attempt to test the behavior of the car in the warm-up turn, the anti-stall system, better known as anti stall , came into action, as can be seen on its onboard camera when the lights of the steering wheel.
Already at his starting point, Sainz seemed to have solved all the problems and only had to come back to minimize the damage. At the moment when the five red lights go out, the Ferrari has the revolutions identical to those of the warm-up lap and, as happened a couple of minutes before, the anti-stall system re-entered, which made it lose many positions in the first meters.
This forced him to play more with the clutch so as not to get stuck in the middle of the circuit, and when he regained speed he fell in line with cars much slower than the F1-75.
The man from Madrid, with the need to climb positions in a very tight middle zone, wanted to go all out on the remodeled Albert Park layout, and trying to take advantage of the fight between Valtteri Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda, he was locked up on the outside of the curve 11, so it fell further down the chart.
After losing traction due to a bad exit from the corner, Mick Schumacher passed him before the end of the first lap, and in revenge, Sainz tried to play him back at turn nine.
In the telemetry it can be seen how the Spaniard had to go to the extreme to overtake the rest of the cars, since, compared to Leclerc, his braking is stronger, but he loses time when cornering because he is not constant, reaching peaks much higher maximums, but with a lower speed.
Returning to his overtaking attempt on Schumacher, Sainz went around the outside and, as he lengthened his braking, he lost the ideal line, having to go through the grass. In this place, a Formula 1 car behaves as if it were on ice, and Sainz, unlike Kevin Magnussen laps later, could not regain direction to enter the tarmac on the right foot.
The Ferrari driver ended up spinning and, instead of letting the car run in the gravel, he slammed on the brakes, so the wheels wouldn’t spin. When trying to accelerate again, this type of escape traps the car without leaving any option to get out, although this probably had to be the case in Sainz’s case because if he tried to return to the circuit, he could have caused a serious accident with the cars that they were passing
Be that as it may, it was a bad weekend for the Spaniard, perhaps the worst since he has been at Ferrari in terms of results, but the sensations are good, since he set good times in practice. The bad news is that he is 38 points behind the world championship leader, his teammate, Charles Leclerc, and it would not be unusual to see that they prioritize the Monegasque if a similar dynamic continues in the next rounds.