Ferrari trying to turn the page after a frustrating Spanish Grand Prix

Frustration seemed the theme of the moment following the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.

Lando Norris was certainly among those drivers feeling some frustration. Despite his second-place finish, Norris was left to wonder what might have been after a slow start opened the door for Max Verstappen to capture yet another Grand Prix win. Speaking immediately after the race Norris told David Coulthard trackside that he “should have” won, and that frustration followed the McLaren driver to the FIA Press Conference, where he outlined how he had “the quickest car,” but did not do a “good enough” job in the race.

Norris was not the only driver frustrated.

Over at Ferrari, the frustration was evident in the words of both drivers. While the Scuderia bounced back with a double-points finish after coming away empty-handed in Montreal, scoring a P5 for Charles Leclerc and a P6 for Carlos Sainz Jr., they lacked the pace to challenge further up the field. Add to that an early-race incident between the teammates, and you have frustration, despite the double-points result.

The incident in question came on the fourth lap, and you can review it for yourself here:

Sainz, with DRS enabled, gets a good run on Leclerc down the long straight and into Turn 1 and then pulls out of the slipstream to the outside. Leclerc goes a bit wide to get defensive, but Sainz maintains his position on the outside racing line. That’s when the two SF-24s come together, with Leclerc making contact with the right rear of Sainz’s car.

In the moment Leclerc told his team that Sainz “closed on me,” while Sainz told his team that Leclerc “forced me off,” and that Leclerc’s contact with Sainz’s right rear tire was evidence that he was “clearly ahead.”

Following the race, both drivers addressed the incident in question.

“Too many times after the race he [Leclerc] complains about something. Honestly, at this point of the season, I was on the attack,” said Sainz to Sky Sports F1. “We were on a used soft [tire]. I passed Charles… I don’t know if he made a mistake or was just managing a bit too much. I think I was trying to do what was required as a driver. He elected to manage more.”

On the other side of the garage Leclerc initially downplayed the incident but then elaborated on why Sainz might have been pushing hard at that point of the race.

“It’s okay. We will have a discussion, obviously. I’m sure everything will be fine,” began Leclerc. “We discussed beforehand that it was the part of the race where we had to manage the [tires] as much as possible.”

The Monegasque driver then continued his assessment.

“Carlos took that opportunity to overtake, which is a shame as that put us on the back foot and damaged my front wing. It was a small damage but everything makes a difference. When you see how close we were at the end it’s a shame,” added Leclerc. “I understand it’s his home race and a very important moment of his career and he wanted to do something spectacular but I was probably not the right person to do that with.”

Leclerc then turned his frustration to the SF-24.

“We tried everything,” continued Leclerc. “I don’t think we maximised our race as a team. We are missing pace but it is the way it is. We weren’t fast enough.”

In the team’s post-race report both drivers, as well as Team Principal Frederic Vasseur, did their best to downplay the incident and turn their attention to the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix, which gets underway in less than a week.

“It was tight today and we were just a lap short of fighting for P4, but our competitors were still ahead in terms of pace. Regarding our strategy, I think we did well to offset ourselves from the cars around us,” said Sainz. “We maybe lost some time between our two cars at the beginning of the race, but going forward we will focus on our race pace extracting the maximum from our package at the next race.”

“It was a difficult race but we gave it our best. Stopping early and finishing the race on the Hard [tire] didn’t turn out to be the optimal strategy today, but we only know this with hindsight after the chequered flag,” reported Sainz. “In any case, we were lacking a bit of pace this weekend in general and we need to work to improve for next weekend in Austria.”

According to Vasseur, the problems began on Saturday, and the team needs to do a better job in qualifying going forward.

“We started five and six and ended five and six and the conclusion I draw from this is that we must do a better job in qualifying. We need to make a small step forward so that we don’t start behind, as this pushes you into taking risks with the strategy,” described Vasseur. “Yesterday the gap to those in front was about two-tenths, today it was similar and if you look at it over the race distance then that was still the same gap.

“As for the contact between our drivers, it was very light and I don’t think it cost us anything. What cost us more is that after our stops, we came out behind some cars, it was very tight and we lost two or three seconds. With Carlos we wanted to cover Russell, which is why we had to go Medium-Hard as we pitted earlier,” continued Vasseur. “With Charles the plan was to extend the stint to go a bit longer which is why we were able to try the Softs.”

The Ferrari boss is not prone to panicking and believes that Red Bull Ring will provide fertile ground for points next weekend.

“With such small gaps between the teams, everything can change: there are four teams in two to two and a half tenths so from track to track the pecking order can change,” concluded Vasseur. “Next week we race in Austria where we will have another Sprint and I expect the track layout there will suit us better.”

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