[Sainz: No regrets after U-turn on failed Ferrari F1 car set-up gamble
The Singapore winner will start the Suzuka race from sixth place, lining up two places behind his team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Sainz said that the knowledge that the car might be less competitive at Suzuka encouraged him to try different things on set-up in order to “challenge” both himself and the car.
When that didn’t work, he took a step back to a more conservative approach, but he conceded he was “distracted” by the swapping around and didn’t have enough time to get fully comfortable with the changes.
“We knew before coming here that this track would expose us a bit more,” said the Spaniard.
“Probably with the high-speed characteristics, but also the long corners, high winds like we’re having today, it was never going to be easy.
“I took the approach yesterday and this morning to try different things on the car, try to change the balance quite a bit, and try different things on set-up to try and put the car a bit in a different place.
“By the time of quali I saw that it was not quite working, and we had to go back to a more basic set-up, which in the end probably ended up compromising my quali preparation and my weekend in general.
“But I’m happy to try those things, and now focus on tomorrow, see if we can do a good race. I don’t think we could have done much more because honestly the McLarens and the Red Bulls this weekend, they look one step quicker.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Regarding the gamble he took, he said: “Some weekends, where you know the car is weak, you need to challenge yourself, challenge the car a bit and try to put it outside its normal window to see if you can find something. That’s what I tried this weekend.
“It definitely didn’t help, but I don’t think it made my life too complicated. I also think Charles this weekend has been very quick and probably the unpredictability and the balance of the car being so tricky with the wind is not helping.”
Sainz suggested that while he had backtracked on the set-up experiments for Suzuka, he had gained useful information for other races.
“Charles must have done a very good lap,” he said. “I didn’t get a clean sector one in my last lap, which probably accentuated a bit the difference. Let’s say he’s been a tenth or two quicker all weekend.
“And probably me being a bit distracted trying so many set-ups and never really getting into a rhythm didn’t help. But it’s an approach that I wanted to take to learn for the future circuits.”