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Sainz feels Bahrain exacerbated Ferrari's 'biggest weakness'

Carlos Sainz took fourth place in Bahrain - but felt the unique demands of the track did not suit the SF-23.

Carlos Sainz believes that Ferrari's biggest Formula 1 "weakness" was exacerbated by the unique track surface found at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sainz qualified and finished fourth in Sakhir in the 2023 season-opener but was not able to keep pace with teammate Charles Leclerc - until the Monegasque retired with an engine problem on Lap 41. This promoted Sainz to third place, but he was then passed by Fernando Alonso - with the younger Spaniard feeling it was wise not to defend against the two-time champion for fear of ruining his tyres - which were already "cooked."

Bahrain did not help Ferrari

The track surface in Sakhir is one of the roughest on the F1 calendar, with the circuit not being re-laid since it was first put down ahead of the inaugural race in 2004. As such, owing to the abrasive surface and heavy traction zones, the venue is renowned for its high tyre degradation - something Sainz identified as Ferrari's "biggest weakness." "As you saw in my battle with Fernando - it also nearly cost me a position to Lewis - as soon as we push this car on these tyres, you just go backwards and you start degrading," he explained to media, including RacingNews365. "It is clearly our biggest point of weakness and clearly Red Bull and Aston Martin are doing something with the tyres that we don't fully understand. "We need to find it because it is costing us in the race. "I believe we can be competitive [in Jeddah] because the tarmac allows you to push more, there's less deg. "We only have one sample that is Bahrain with these cars, we've been here for seven days running these cars. "It is clear what our problem is in Bahrain, so let's see in Jeddah, with a different tarmac and it is a bit more front-limited which could help us."

Ferrari tyres were 'cooked'

After scything past Hamilton on Lap 38, Alonso quickly hunted down Sainz, passing the Ferrari on the run to Turn 11 on Lap 45. Sainz felt that Alonso should have overtaken him earlier in the race - the move only delayed by the Aston's slow start. "I knew at some point he was going to get past," he said. "I'm defending everything I can, but at some point also you're cooking your tyres, and there's Lewis behind, so you're always there mentally knowing how much to push to keep him behind, but he was just a lot quicker today. "He finished 10 seconds up the road, so it shows the pace advantage that he had and if he hadn't had the trouble at the start, this moment would have arrived a lot earlier in the race.”

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying