Media ’overestimated’ Ferrari upgrade - Sainz

"We knew they had a lot more to give in qualifying"


19 May 2024 - 09:42
Media 'overestimated' (…)

Max Verstappen emerged from his Imola struggles on Saturday to equal the great Ayrton Senna’s record of eight consecutive pole positions.

The triple world champion had earlier complained of chronic handling problems - with his subsequent qualifying triumph prompting some of his rivals to roll their eyes.

"They always use lower engine settings in the free practices and look like they’re having a hard time," Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said. "We knew they had a lot more to give in qualifying."

Lando Norris, third quickest in his McLaren, agreed: "I think if anyone doubted Red Bull or him coming back and doing a good job in qualifying, they’re a bit stupid."

But Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko actually thinks both McLarens might have been ahead of Verstappen.

"We have to thank Nico Hulkenberg for those two tenths," he smiled, referring to the way the Haas driver and Verstappen exchanged friendly slipstream duties.

One rumour was that Red Bull’s upgrade package simply didn’t work - prompting the world champions to revert to the Miami specification for qualifying.

"Nonsense," team boss Christian Horner said. "We’re using the new parts."

Red Bull had initially expected Ferrari to put up the strongest challenge at Imola, given the visible extent of the local team’s Imola-spec upgrade.

"It’s working as expected," Charles Leclerc said. "It will just take a little while before we can get the most out of it."

Sainz, meanwhile, thinks the media "overestimated" the effect the upgrade would have.

"I don’t think the team itself had too high expectations," said the Spaniard. "It was more the media.

"Of course it looks like a new car, but we know the numbers and we knew from the start that it was not a huge package. It was more about small steps forward.

"It’s also tricky when you introduce an upgrade on a track that isn’t the best for the car. Imola has always been a track where McLaren and Red Bull have done well," Sainz added.

"But as I said, the numbers never suggested that we would immediately move up to first place with the new parts. I tried to say that all week, but apparently people didn’t want to believe it."

Team boss Frederic Vasseur also isn’t worried about falling behind McLaren at Imola.

"We have to remember we’re talking about a tenth," he said.

"There is a tenth between Verstappen and the two McLarens and then another tenth to us. And we still have eighteen races to go."


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