Ferrari launched ‘big investigation’ after point-less French GP to try to tackle tyre issues, says Sainz
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has admitted to being impressed by the speed of his team’s reaction to a woeful French Grand Prix, which saw Sainz and team mate Charles Leclerc finish out of the points in 11th and 16th – with Ferrari having already formulated a plan to get on top of the issues, according to the Spaniard. But despite the quick turnaround, Leclerc admitted that the problem could very well rear its head again in the upcoming Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix.
With Sainz and Leclerc having qualified strongly in P5 and P7, Ferrari’s Paul Ricard race then unravelled as they slipped down the order, coming home out of the points for Ferrari’s first non-score of the season – with issues with how the Ferrari SF21 worked its tyres having been found as the root cause.
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But speaking ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, Sainz said the French race had exposed a weakness that had been present “for a while now” at Ferrari.
“It’s been only three full days since we had the issue and obviously you can imagine as a team, we were quite surprised by it,” said Sainz. “But also in some way we knew we were exposed to this kind of degradation in the front tyres for a while now.
“It’s quite interesting to see how such a big factory, such a big organisation launches its plan to recover and to try and find out how we’re going to tackle and solve this issue,” added Sainz.
“I’ve been quite involved in all the meetings and discussions on how we’re going to get it better. I’ve been spending these last three days in Maranello and we’ve definitely put together a plan for the short, medium and long-term to see if we can get it better.
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“We need to experiment with different set-up directions, different configurations that we can put in the car, at least in the short-term to mitigate the problem, and then there’s already very big investigations being launched in the medium and long-term to try and solve the issue back at the factory.”
All of which begs the question: was the French Grand Prix a one-off for Ferrari, or does it indicate a sea change in the team’s competitiveness?
But according to Leclerc, it’s too early yet to tell – with the Monegasque simply underlining his hope that the team are back at the sharp end this weekend and the next at a Red Bull Ring track that’s one of his favourites, and where he’s scored podiums in two of the last three races.
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“We feel like [the issue] was more specific to France, but it’s not impossible that we find it again here or next weekend,” said Leclerc. “We don’t really know yet, and that’s the whole job of the investigation, to try and understand which exact circumstances we have this issue and why does it get more serious on some tracks than others. So that’s where we’re putting our focus at the moment.
“I really enjoy this track,” he added. “It’s one of my favourites – I’ve always had good results in the past so I really hope we can have a very good result this weekend.”