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Contrasting emotions at Ferrari after Austria Sprint as Sainz achieves ‘maximum’ in P3 and Leclerc bemoans being ‘nowhere’

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Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has expressed his satisfaction after surviving a Shootout scare to end Saturday’s running at the Red Bull Ring with a top-three finish behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Sainz found himself in the drop zone during the SQ1 phase due to a brake-by-wire issue but made it back onto the track for one final run, which he converted to progress to SQ2 and ultimately secure fifth on the grid for the Sprint.

READ MORE: Verstappen battles back against Perez for victory during frenetic wet-dry Sprint in Austria

In a dramatic wet-dry encounter, Sainz cleared McLaren rival Lando Norris and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg to emerge as Red Bull’s nearest challenger, giving Ferrari – with their updated SF-23 – something to celebrate.

“Yeah, honestly very happy to be P3 today, after how the day started with the brake-by-wire issue in Q1 and only managing to do one lap,” commented Sainz.

“To then progress the way we did through quali and put ourselves today in P3 I think is the maximum, so I’m very happy with this Saturday.

Sprint Highlights: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix

As for whether he feels excited about what’s possible in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, which he will start third behind team mate Charles Leclerc and Verstappen, he said: “I’ve been very comfortable, especially today since the first lap of quali, that was actually my only lap of quali in Q1.

“I looked very quick and very at ease with the car and kept the feeling through in the wet, and hopefully tomorrow in the dry I confirm a bit the step and we can be strong in the whole race.

READ MORE: Verstappen and Perez share their views after ‘hairy’ battle on first lap of Austria Sprint

“[Battling Verstappen 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 position though with two cars right behind him and ready to attack.”

While Sainz was a happy man post-Sprint, Leclerc cut a frustrated figure as he lamented another low-key performance in changeable conditions en route to 12th – the Monegasque making the switch to slicks late on rather than sticking with intermediates.

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 01: Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Monaco  during the Sprint ahead of the

Leclerc started the Sprint in ninth after losing three places for impeding Oscar Piastri in the Shootout

Asked if he was frustrated by Ferrari’s overall pace, he replied: “Not of Ferrari. Of myself, for sure, I am disappointed in the race overall – I haven’t been strong.

“But it’s been three races now that whenever I’m on slicks on a track that his half dry, half wet, I am nowhere. We need to understand on my side what I’m doing wrong in terms of driving.

FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen hoping to banish Austria 2022 jinx after Sprint win

“Obviously it seems to work on the dry, it seems to work also when it’s full wet, but when it’s in between the two I’m nowhere. Again, it’s been three races, qualifying in Barcelona where I thought there was a problem, Canada, and now here.

“We need to find it and improve in those conditions, as it’s compromising a lot our season, as it’s the third race in a row that we’ve had those conditions.”

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