Carlos Sainz Jr. says the Styrian Grand Prix went as well as he could have hoped last Sunday as he climbed from twelfth on the grid to finish sixth, and he knows that it will be an easier weekend if he can qualify better.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver remains at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend looking to build on the positivity from last weekend, with the Spaniard using good pace and an excellent strategy to move up the order.
But he knows that it was far from ideal for him to be eliminated in Q1 on Saturday, which made his afternoon in Styria more difficult than it should have been.
“I think it was the first race since I’ve been at Ferrari in which everything went exactly according to plan and of course the next step is to manage to qualify as well as we did in France,” said Sainz.
“Then perform in the race the way we did in the Styrian Grand Prix, when I went from twelfth to sixth place.”
Sainz says Friday will be extremely busy this weekend as the tyre choice from Pirelli is one step softer than they had seven days ago, and there will also be prototype tyres to test at the same time.
But he knows he will need to focus on getting the best out of the SF71 over qualifying simulations if he is to give himself a better opportunity this coming weekend.
“We have softer compound tyres, which we will need to understand, cooler temperatures as well as a prototype tyre to evaluate before it is introduced starting from Silverstone,” said the Spaniard.
“So, we will have quite a busy programme in free practice, which will also include preparing better for Saturday, at least in my case. I know I can do better than the last Grand Prix’s twelfth place on the grid.”
“We come here with plenty of data that should help us do better in qualifying” – Leclerc
Team-mate Charles Leclerc was voted driver of the day last Sunday after coming from the back of the pack to finish seventh, but it could have been a much different day after hitting Pierre Gasly on the exit of turn one on lap one.
Leclerc damaged his front wing as he struck the rear wheel of Gasly’s Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AT-02, and he pitted at the end of the lap for a replacement. Thereafter, he was a man on a mission as he carved his way through the field and score six points for seventh.
Heading into this weekend, Leclerc feels the team have more information to improve their qualifying performance, although he does not want the team to compromise their strong race pace.
“A few days ago here, we were really strong, so it was a shame about the first lap incident with Pierre,” said Leclerc. “We have to start off again from the strong pace in the first race in Spielberg to tackle the second one in the best possible way.
“I think we have approached the weekend in the right way and we come here with plenty of data that should help us do better in qualifying, however I don’t think it makes sense to compromise too much on race pace to gain one place on the grid on Saturday.
“It will be a busy and interesting weekend.”