Carlos Sainz missed out on a top-five qualifying result for the Qatar GP however, he managed to remain in the top ten with a solid P7 result. After a challenging first day of practice where he was 6th in FP1, then 10th in FP2 and 6th in FP3, the Spaniard focused on the team’s improvements and strong effort over the course of the race weekend so far.
"P7 is a good qualifying result, given where we were yesterday and it shows the progress we’ve made today with the car. In Q2 we took a big risk running twice with the Medium and thankfully it worked after a very strong first attempt” stated Sainz.
Although the team’s strategy to utilize the medium tyres paid off in qualifying, the start of the race will prove to be a different challenge for Sainz while the other drivers on the grids next to him will be on soft tryres.
“On Softs it would have been easier to get into Q3, but given our tyre degradation, we believe the Medium tyre is the best for our race, although I’ll be surrounded by Soft runners at the start and that is going to be extremely challenging.
''In Q3 I was able to put together a good lap but didn’t manage to improve on that P7. The start on the clean side of the track is good news for tomorrow and we’ll try to strategically play our different tyre choice to maximise the result.”
The Ferrari driver hopes that the team’s decision to use different tyres compared to some of the others at the start will help achieve the best result possible for the race. Sainz continues to stay focused on the positive headway the team accomplished over the weekend through to the qualifying session
"I feel like the huge effort made by the entire team yesterday to understand what we needed to address today has paid off, and that is another positive to take from this session. Now let’s focus on the race!"
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director at Ferrari admits the qualifying session was demanding for both drivers and reiterates that the goal for the team is to lock in third place in the constructors’ championship ahead of the McLaren team.
"A difficult qualifying this afternoon, but having said that, we are well aware that our main aim in this final part of the season is to beat McLaren in the Constructors’ standings and the outcome of this session suggests we are pretty evenly matched.
Mekies credits Sainz for his quality performance on the medium set of tryes during qualifying and hopes that the risky strategy will pan out in their favor on race day.
"Carlos did well, getting through to Q3 on the Mediums, the only driver to do so apart from those in the two teams fighting for the titles. It was a risky choice and luckily it all went well. We will see tomorrow if this works out for us.”
"One should not forget that on a new track like this, the experience gained lap after lap can make a difference, so the pecking order we saw today could still change. Furthermore, reliability will be even more crucial than ever, as we learned this afternoon to our cost.
For our part, we will do our utmost to ensure any changes go in our favour, especially when up against our main rivals. Despite it having been a difficult day, it’s not over yet and we still have the opportunity to pick up plenty of championship points."
Sainz along with Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were called in to see the stewards after the qualifying session for not yielding under a yellow flag. The FIA Stewards have not reached a decision yet, however, the Ferrari driver is at risk of receiving a grid penalty that could affect his P7 starting position for the Qatar GP.