Carlos Sainz will start his Spanish GP from P6 on the grid, but the Ferrari driver fears he may encounter the same medium tyre degradation issues that undermined his race at Portimão.
In Portugal last week, Sainz launched is race from fourth – four spots ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc – and held his own in the opening laps of the race.
But a switch to Pirelli’s medium compound put paid to the Spaniard’s efforts as he battled graining issues and drifted down the order and out of the points.
Like all drivers starting among the top-ten, Sainz will launch his race on the soft rubber, but his progress thereafter will likely depend on tyre management and strategy execution.
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“We are carrying a bit of a deficit into the race,” he said. “We know in tyre management we are not where we want to be still.
“In Portimao we struggled a lot, and we saw on Friday again that we don’t have the best of race pace and tyre deg.
“But at the same time if we get a good start, and we execute the strategy well, I still think we can finish in front of the rest.
“I think partly a bit less straight on this track is helping our relative competitiveness to be a bit higher.
“But as you can see, the last sector is working well, the car is working well in the corners, and we actually had a pretty decent balance all weekend.”
“In the race we still have tyre problems, and let’s see if tomorrow we can reduce that a little bit. The start here as you know, just like qualifying, is very important, and we’re going to try to go forward.”
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Sainz was outpaced in Saturday’s qualifying by Leclerc, but the Spaniard felt he could have had the measure of his teammate “with a couple of strong laps”.
“To be honest, I was ahead in Q1 and Q2,” he said. “And even though I managed to save two sets of tyres for Q3, neither of the laps was the way I wanted them to be.
“I felt like today I could have been in front with with a couple of strong laps.
“But it wasn’t the case. I’m still struggling quite a lot in some types of corners that I cannot repeat, like in Turn 10 and Turn 7, struggling to feel the front.
“But the positive thing is that again in Q1 I did only one run, and that shows that the confidence is growing. And that I can actually be very fast when I nail the lap.”
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