Carlos Sainz Jr. admitted it was a risk to get through into the top ten shootout by using the medium Pirelli tyre at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, and the plan backfired as the Spaniard missed out by 0.006 seconds.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver avoided the soft tyre in Q2 but was knocked out of the top ten in the closing moments by an improvement from Williams Racing’s George Russell. And Sainz felt he could have had a good Q3 had it made it through.
And after a strong Styrian Grand Prix last weekend at the same circuit, Sainz is hopeful that Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix will see him move up the order and score another good haul of points. He will start tenth thanks to Sebastian Vettel‘s penalty.
“Today we decided to take a bit more of a risk by trying to make it into Q3 using the Medium tyre,” said Sainz. “After a decent first attempt with that tyre, we went for it and unfortunately missed the cut by only 6 thousandths of a second.
“I’m obviously not happy with that because it was extremely close and we couldn’t show the good progress we’ve made this week. These past few days, we worked hard on the balance, the set up and my driving style and we could have had a good Q3.
“Anyway, the race is tomorrow and our goal is to have another strong Sunday here in Austria and score as many points as possible.”
“We were aware of the risk of not making it into Q3” – Charles Leclerc
Team-mate Charles Leclerc also found himself on the wrong side of the cut-off time, with the Monegasque racer twelfth fastest, just 0.041 seconds back on Sainz.
Like Sainz, he gambled on getting through Q2 without using the soft compound, and he was disappointed to find himself behind the time needed to make it through, particularly when other drivers on the same compound got through.
“Mixed feelings after today’s qualifying,” said Leclerc. “On the one hand, we were aware of the risk of not making it into Q3, prioritising setting our fastest Q2 lap on the Medium compound to suit our strategy.
“The lap itself was quite good. Unfortunately, some of our competitors finished ahead of us on the same compound, which is the disappointing side of it.”
Leclerc feels Ferrari’s long run pace has appeared to be strong, and with a free choice of starting tyre, he believes they are in contention for points on Sunday afternoon.
“Our race pace has been solid this weekend and we have a free choice of tyres for the start,” said Leclerc. “We have to analyse exactly which strategy is the best for tomorrow, considering that there are quite a few cars ahead of us, some of which are starting on Mediums.
“This makes things a bit more tricky, as our advantage has slightly lessened. We will give everything and make the best of it tomorrow.”