It was overall a positive day for the Italian Scuderia, as Carlos Sainz made his way up the grid to P4 after his crash in yesterday's Q2 from a starting top ten, whereas Charles Leclerc failed to keep the lead of the race he had acquired at the start.
The Monegasque driver was passed by Max Verstappen while he was nursing tyre issues on the 20th lap of today's Sprint Race, and will start the Emilia Romagna GP from P2, where he had qualified yesterday.
Leclerc later on recalled what happened and went wrong in today's session:
“I had a very good start. We weren't side-by-side for Turn 1 and I could focus on my own race from that moment onwards. I tried to push at the beginning to get a bit of a gap and for Max to not be in the DRS zone because I knew that I would have been vulnerable if it was the case."
However, what appeared to be the safest choice at the moment ended up ruining the end of his race, as pushing to increase the gap at the start left his tyres extremely worn out in the final laps, allowing Verstappen to regain his pole.
“But I paid the price a little bit later on in the race and had some graining and then really struggled in the last two, three laps.”
In order to have a shot at winning tomorrow's race, Ferrari will have to solve the graining issue, which hit them harder than Red Bull.
"I think the pace is quite similar, what made the difference at the end was the graining phase that I went through. If we manage to cure that all for tomorrow, I'm pretty sure that we're in the fight for the win. If not, it's going to be a bit more difficult.”
Carlos Sainz successfully recovered six positions to a final P4 after a "surprising" crash forced him to start in P10. The Spaniard, who has renewed his contract with Ferrari for the nex two years in the week, is extremely satisfied by his driving today:
"Yeah I think I just did the maximum that I could do today. With how the race played out I knew I had to get up to a top 5, possibly top 4 and today I got P4 so..."
"Solid day, solid race, and now I'm ready to fight with everyone tomorrow."
Sainz said that, while his feeling with the car built to comply with the new regulations has improved, it's still not as good as he would like it to be:
"I'm still not as smooth as I would like to be. The mistake I did yesterday prove that maybe I'm not still at 100% happy with the car, or understanding it fully."
"But I'm hustling out there, trying my best to get it up to my liking, to change my driving, and mistakes are going to come when you are challenging yourself like that."
Graining was a severe issue for him as well as for Leclerc, and something to look into before the race tomorrow.
"It was important to have 20 solid laps to feel the car in dirty air, with the degradation that we had today, which was quite hard. As you could see, me and Charles were struggling with graining far more than Red Bull."
"It was a very good "race simulation", of what could happen tomorrow in the first stint, and this should give us a better understanding going into tomorrow."
Asked if it's more him that has to adapt to the new car, or rather the car to be upgraded to suit his driving at best, Sainz, twice on the podium in 2022 so far, replied:
"Honestly, it's a combination of both. There is no magic weapons, you have to do something from your side as a driver and I'm having to do tecnics and driving that I'm not used to in order to be fast with this car."
"At the same time, I need some testing and free practices to try things, to bring it up more at my likings. As soon as I find a balance I like, in combination with my driving, I know I can be as fast as anyone out there," he concluded, hopeful for his future.
Team Principal Mattia Binotto highlighted the importance of the sprint race as well as the main event, especially with it being held so close to the team's home Maranello.
"For us, yesterday was a difficult day, I mean, it's our home race, it's great to be here, it's great for our fans that are here to support us, there's a lot of buzz, but the sprint race is as important as the other one."