Formula One

“We are ready to attack Verstappen” claims Carlos Sainz, ahead of the Austrian GP

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Photo by ANP / Icon Sport

Ferrari are enjoying one of their best weekends so far this season in Austria, as the car looks to be very suited in the Red Bull Ring and both drivers are looking forward to a competitive outing in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Qualifying went better than expected for the Scuderia, as Charles Leclerc was less than half a tenth of a second away from Max Verstappen and pole position on Friday. With Sergio Perez eliminated during Q1, Carlos Sainz was also able to capitalise on the opportunity and qualified third for the race.

Things went well for the Spaniard on Sprint Saturday as well, despite his day starting very badly. A brake-by-wire issue threatened to put an end to his Sprint Shootout efforts before they even began, but a fast repair from his mechanics and a rapid lap, which put him on top in SQ1, was enough to put him out of the danger zone. He qualified fifth for the Sprint, but moved ahead of Lando Norris on the opening lap and Nico Hulkenberg later on. He eventually finished third and claimed his first silverware of the year.

With a great start to the weekend under his belt, Sainz was asked by Lawrence Barretto of F1 TV on his chances for tomorrow’s 71-lap race:

I have been very comfortable, especially today. Since the first lap of quali, that was actually my only lap of SQ1, I looked very quick. I’m very at ease with the car and kept the feeling through in the wet. Hopefully tomorrow in the dry, I confirm a bit the step and we can be strong in the whole race.

He was also asked whether he and Ferrari can take the fight to the dominant forces of the 2023 championship, Verstappen and Red Bull:

It is a lot to ask right now. I never say no, never say never, but you know how tricky it will be. We are in a good position though, with both cars right behind him and ready to attack.

Ferrari won last year’s race in the Red Bull Ring, with Charles Leclerc and Ferrari being the fastest combination and passing Verstappen twice, as the pair went for different strategies. The Monegasque came out on top for his third win of that season, which is also his last one to date. Sainz was also in the mix, but retired when his car caught fire towards the end of the Grand Prix.

On the other side of the garage, the sprint did not go well for Leclerc. He qualified sixth, but started ninth after recieving a penalty for impeding Oscar Piastri. He stayed there for most of the sprint and eventually fell to twelfth, unable to find pace after his switch to slick tyres. He claimed to be struggling when driving on slick tyres on a track that is partly wet, as was the case during qualifying in both Spain and Canada.

With limited opportunities to rectify that weakness ahead of the Grand Prix, Leclerc will be hoping that changeable weather conditions will not be featuring during the Grand Prix, as the forecast is still unclear in terms of whether it will rain tomorrow.

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