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WATCH: Sainz brings out red flags with dramatic qualifying crash in Shanghai

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Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz suffered a dramatic crash during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit, bringing out the red flags in the process.

Sainz ran wide at the final corner, dipped a wheel onto the gravel and dropped the rear midway through the Q2 phase, sending his car sliding across the track and into the barriers on the other side of the track.

READ MORE: ‘Carlos was over the limit today’ insists Leclerc as he reflects on Ferrari’s Sprint squabble in China

After reporting that he was unharmed, Sainz got his SF-24 moving again and limped back to the pits – without a front wing – for mechanics to carry out repairs and attempt to send him back out when the session restarted.

Amazingly they succeeded with Sainz making it through into Q3, before taking P7 on the grid for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix.

Reflecting on the incident after the session, Sainz commented: "[It was] obviously not ideal to crash in Q2, but still managed to crash just in the right angle.

Carlos Sainz talks us through his dramatic spin and save in Q2 in Shanghai

"In the last moment I turned the wheel a bit to make sure that the crash was in the best possible angle and managed to keep the right angle there to not damage the rear suspension and the rear wing. From there I recovered well, I had decent confidence in the car and I could keep pushing flat out.

"Unfortunately, still it throws you a bit off rhythm and it’s not an ideal quali, but I managed to put together some strong laps. It just seems like this weekend we’re not very strong as a team and it’s not a very good track for us. But the race is tomorrow and we can still recover."

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole position for Chinese Grand Prix as he heads Perez and Alonso

Asked whether Ferrari can get ahead of their immediate rivals in Sunday's race – with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri ahead of them – Sainz responded: "We’re going to try our best.

"I think McLaren is definitely the target… tomorrow with Fernando I think they are definitely a step faster than us in quali, as simple as that, they were both cars quicker than the Ferraris in quali. But over the race things change normally so we will try and get them back in the race."

Leclerc believes 'good race pace and tyre management' should see him make Shanghai podium

Sainz's team mate Charles Leclerc will also line up just in front of him in P6. The Monegasque has been open about his recent struggles in qualifying, having vowed to work on this after a difficult session last time out in Japan.

While starting from sixth is not as high up as he would have liked, Leclerc is optimistic about Ferrari's race day prospects.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from qualifying in China as Verstappen grabs pole and Sainz crashes

"We struggled a lot in the first sector, which I can have an idea of, and I don’t think it comes from tyre preparation that time," he reflected on his qualifying session in Shanghai.

"But we set up the car on my side mostly for the race tomorrow and I think it’s going to pay off tomorrow. However, we did not expect McLaren and Fernando to be able to jump us.

"I was happy to sacrifice being P3 behind the Red Bulls with a good car for the race, but now obviously we are starting P6 so it’s a bit further back than we would have liked.

"However, we have good race pace, good tyre management, and that gives me the confidence that we can come back to third tomorrow, but we need to get past quickly and hopefully there are no DRS trains."

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track

Leclerc has been keen to work on his performance in qualifying recently

Pushed on whether he was happier with his qualifying performance this time around, Leclerc said: "I mean, there was no special lap whatsoever like I like to do in qualifying, so I’m not yet at the level where I want to be, but I’m on the right path.

"As I said, it’s a matter of time. I don’t think it’s going to be long, already this weekend it’s been a better feeling, and next weekend I’m sure we’ll be all good."

It was confirmed after qualifying that Aston Martin had lodged a protest of the results, citing an alleged breach of Article 39.6 of the sporting regulations which states that: "Any driver whose car stops on the track during the qualifying session or the sprint shootout will not be permitted to take any further part in that session."

This was in reference to Sainz rejoining the session after stopping on track following his contact with the barriers in Q2. Representatives from both Aston Martin and Ferrari were summoned to the stewards following the protest being lodged.

Following the stewards' hearing, the protest was dismissed, with the stewards finding that the decision taken by Race Control was not inconsistent with past practice nor in breach of Article 39.6.

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