Sainz Explains Ferrari’s Fear of Getting Key F1 Limitation Exposed at Austrian GP

Published 07/04/2021, 7:35 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 3, 2021 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in action during qualifying REUTERS/Lisi Niesner


The Tifosi were understandably upset to see both Ferrari drivers stuck in Q2 on Saturday’s qualifying round. However, it was later revealed that it was all a part of Ferrari’s strategy. Charles Leclerc affirmed Ferrari intended to have a free choice of tires on Sunday’s race. Unfortunately, the driver wasn’t too happy about being beat by George Russell – who will start in Q3 for the first time in his Williams.

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Carlos Sainz imparted, “Yeah we knew, but we preferred to be P11 on the medium than P5 on the soft, and this was priority number one.”

Ferrari don’t have two sets of the hard compound available – they will probably have to use all three of the range. Moreover, they would have to avoid using the soft at the start to make sure that it’s in use when the car is at its heaviest.

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Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Styria, Austria – June 25, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in action during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Laurent Mekies, Maranello‘s sporting director, confirmed that the team had built its strategy around avoiding the soft.

“We came in here with the idea that the C5 would not be suitable for the race. We know we have higher tire wear in some circumstances than the competition, and certainly coming here with the softer compound we didn’t think the C5 would work for us in the race. And therefore we’ve set up our weekend trying to avoid having to run it in the race.”

Understanding the strategy of Ferrari

The tires have been under the spotlight this weekend as Pirelli has gone one step softer than last weekend. However, tires aren’t the sole problem; the weather in the Styrian hills is being nothing but a tease. Friday’s free practice session saw a light drizzle while on Saturday the track welcomed clear skies and high temperatures.

Last weekend was particularly disappointing for those wishing for a wet race, as the Red Bull ring saw a downpour just as the race ended.

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The FIA predicts a 40% chance of rain for the duration of the race. If that happens, by any chance, the teams would have to switch to intermediates or full wets – which would nullify the need to use two dry compounds and would open up new strategies.

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Looking at the Prancing Horses, they might be in trouble if track temperatures drop on Sunday. Sainz believes if that is the situation, “it could expose a bit [Ferrari’s] current limitation.”

While the Spaniard is confident the team can pull through, Leclerc is a bit worried about the strategy. “We’ve got quite a few cars in front of us that will have a similar strategy to us, because they’ve been able to qualify in Q3 with a medium, so it’s not going to be easy.” 

The softer tires and the iffy weather are bound to have strategists busy this race. Only time will tell if Ferrari’s risk will backfire on them, or they might just achieve the results they wish to bring in.

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Shreya Sanjeev

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