Sainz delighted to ‘peak at the right time’ to take P5 in Abu Dhabi GP qualifying
Carlos Sainz said he “peaked at the right time” after securing an impressive fifth on the grid for Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc seventh.
Sainz started the weekend on the back foot, the Spaniard feeling uncomfortable with the car during Friday practice. But he found solutions overnight and looked quick from the start of qualifying.
“I needed it after a difficult one in Jeddah where I was very quick but not clever enough to know how to use my speed,” said Sainz. “Here I wanted to take it little by little through the weekend, and definitely peaked at the right time.
“It was not an easy qualifying because it was a lot of games going on with outlaps etcetera. But we managed it very well and put together a nice lap in the end.”
Just one tenth of a second separated four different cars from P3 to P6, from Sainz’s former team mate Lando Norris in third, ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Sainz and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
“[McLaren] have been quick all the last half of the season,” added Sainz. “It’s just they haven’t been putting it together and it looks like Lando is going to do a pretty good job this weekend like he did here last year.
“It’s a track he likes, it’s a track he always puts some good lap together. We were not that far [off] in terms of lap times. He must have done a pretty good one because mine was nice. Congrats to him and tomorrow we’ll give him a run.”
Leclerc was a tenth behind in P7, the Monegasque frustrated with his final sector as he felt third was possible.
“I’m not very happy because the first and second sector were coming together really, really strong and I think I was there or thereabouts with P3,” he said. “The last sector, I pushed too much in the first two (mini) sectors and lost the tyres.
“There were no particular mistakes, just no grip at all and struggling with the rears and the front actually. Just overheating with all four tyres. It’s a shame, but that’s life.”
Despite Norris out-qualifying both Ferraris, the Scuderia remain in the box seat to claim P3 in the constructors’ championship this weekend, with a 38.5-point lead over McLaren heading into the race.