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Leclerc bemoans DNF after ‘crazy race’ with Sainz left searching for answers on Ferrari’s poor pace

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 27: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 leads

Carlos Sainz said Ferrari had to be “proud” of his P5 result in the Dutch Grand Prix on a weekend when the team simply didn’t have the pace to fight for a podium finish – while Charles Leclerc was left to rue a weekend to forget which ended in a DNF.

It was a torrid weekend for the Monegasque driver who found himself spending more time off the track than on it on Saturday, and then didn’t fare much better in the race as he was forced to retire from the Grand Prix after sustaining floor damage in the first handful of laps.

READ MORE: ‘I’m incredibly proud’ – Verstappen overjoyed as he makes more F1 history with hard-fought Zandvoort win

As the rain began to fall heavily, Leclerc made contact with the side of Oscar Piastri’s McLaren as the two battled for position, in what was deemed a racing incident. He then slithered into the pit lane to change to the intermediate tyres – only to find no tyres were ready.

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 27: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 makes

Ferrari changed Leclerc's front wing - but to no avail, as he wound up retiring midway through the race

“Coming into the last corner, I saw there was a lot of rain so decided to stop at the last minute. We lost a little bit of time at the pit stop but overall, it was a good operation for us because we gained more than what we lost. We just need to understand how we could have optimised a bit better, having the guys ready early on. This race was crazy,” Leclerc said.

Having opted for the right choice of tyre, Leclerc should have been well-placed to scythe his way back through the field with plenty of runners sticking with the slick tyres are the rain fell – but instead he found himself going backwards, with no pace whatsoever. That was soon attributed to the damage he sustained in the contact with Piastri.

READ MORE: ‘One bad decision cost us a lot of places’ admits Norris after P2 grid slot becomes P7 race finish

“[It was] extremely difficult, we lost more than 60 points [of downforce] so it was almost a different category, so it was always going to be difficult after that,” said Leclerc, who eventually retired the car at the end of Lap 41.

Sainz at least spared the team’s blushes with a strong drive to fifth at the flag, holding the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at bay in the closing stages. But on a day where he was overtaken by eventual podium finisher Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, it was difficult to sum up whether Ferrari should be happy or disappointed by their performance.

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 27: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari prepares to drive on the grid

Sainz's points have lifted him above his team mate in the standings

“We have to be very pleased to be P5 and giving ourselves a chance to fight for a podium today but the reality is that the pace has never been there all weekend,” said Sainz. “The reality is once the race settled down, we were just fighting with cars that were much quicker than us. To finish in front of the Mercedes, the McLarens, this weekend they had a lot more pace than us – it’s a strong result.

“I think [this also] has to be frustrating for us because in a way this weekend, we were just very far off the pace and we need to understand why. But at the same time we have to be proud that on a weekend when the pace wasn’t there, we’ve managed to maximise our result. Mixed feelings for sure but I did suffer quite a bit out there today.”

READ MORE: Gasly hails ‘massive motivation boost’ for overhauled Alpine after ‘insane’ run to P3 at Zandvoort

Ferrari head to their home race in Monza next weekend fourth in the constructors’ championship, 14 points adrift of Aston Martin, with Sainz now ahead of his team mate in the standings thanks to his Zandvoort haul.

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