'It was really lonely' – Leclerc and Sainz reflect on disappointing outing for Ferrari in Mexico
Ferrari have often had the fastest car over one lap this season but in Mexico they were struggling for performance in all scenarios as they finished far from the podium places.
Charles Leclerc will end the season with the most pole positions of any driver, and had entered the race weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on a run of five podium finishes in a row. That run came to an end in pretty emphatic fashion as Leclerc was sixth, 10 seconds behind team mate Carlos Sainz and over a minute off the winner Max Verstappen.
“It was really lonely,” Leclerc said. “Just with Carlos, cruising until the end, way too slow for the guys in front; much quicker than the guys behind.
“So we just did our strategy, focused on ourselves, tried to maximise our package, which we did, but we are one minute behind the leaders. So we need to understand why our up and downs… whenever we are in a down, it seems to be a big one. So we need to look into it in order to be a bit more consistent – even on our bad days.
“It’s huge, but I don’t have the explanation yet. I believe we were losing quite a lot of time down the straights. Whether this was where all of it was coming from, I doubt it, but we need to analyse everything and make a step forward.”
For Sainz, he followed up his pole position in Austin by again outqualifying Leclerc, but the lack of pace from Ferrari meant George Russell could even afford a late pit stop to set the fastest lap without losing position.
“I think I drove a pretty good race but when you see the distance to the leaders there was not much more in it,” Sainz said. “We know the compromises we had to take for this weekend, we knew going into the race that we were going to be slow, but we maximised the points that the car could take. At least on a positive note, we didn’t lose too much and we can focus on Brazil and Abu Dhabi where we expect to be back on the pace.”
The compromises Sainz mentions related to Ferrari not being able to get the best performance out of their power unit at altitude, but Team Principal Mattia Binotto feels that doesn’t account for the full deficit to Red Bull and Mercedes.
“It has certainly been a very difficult weekend,” Binotto said. “It already was in qualifying being quite far behind pole position when normally in qualifying we are quite competitive. And in the race I think it simply emphasised the fact that we are not comfortable with the track this weekend.
“Our overall performance has not been great, no doubt. We were off the pace in the race. I think the compromises that both of them have been mentioning, certainly in terms of power unit we were not at our best performance for the weekend, but I don’t think that’s explaining most of it.
“That’s part of the equation but there is more than that, there is certainly more than that. It’s something we need to look at and there is not a clear answer right now. The ride was not great, the balance was not great, I’m pretty sure the drivers will tell me the car was not turning, and the reasons why I think needs to be looked at and we don’t have a clear explanation right now.”