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Carlos Sainz

Sainz questions whether Russell/Verstappen battle was 'personal'

Carlos Sainz had a close-up view of the first-lap battle between Max Verstappen and George Russell during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint race. The Spaniard has given his take on the pair's "very aggressive" fight.

Verstappen Russell Baku sprint
To news overview © XPBimages

Carlos Sainz has questioned whether Max Verstappen and George Russell were making their battle "personal" during the opening lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint race.

The two drivers engaged in a scrap for P3 on Lap 1 of the 17-lap encounter, resulting in contact between them at Turn 2. Verstappen eventually got back in front and finished in third, with Russell ending the day in fourth.

Verstappen and Russell shared a tense exchange in parc ferme after the event, while Sainz – who claimed P5 in the Sprint behind the duo – gave his take on what he witnessed during their first-lap fight.

Sainz on 'personal' Verstappen/Russell battle

"I had to take avoiding action more than anything else," Sainz told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"There's no space. I nearly caught them both.

"They were very aggressive, and it looked like they were taking it personal at some point because it was a bit all over the place for them."

In terms of his own race, Sainz admits that a key focus was to gain further lap time in order to develop a better understanding of his recent struggles with the car.

"[I was] trying to stay out of trouble, try to do the mileage that I have to do to try and keep building that confidence up, and try and find out why I'm struggling," the Ferrari driver said.

'Difficult weekend' for Sainz

After struggling during Friday's running in Baku, Sainz acknowledges that he has had a challenging weekend so far, something that did not change during the Sprint.

"[It's] no surprise, when you cannot change [anything] in the car and you cannot really experiment to get yourself comfortable – you're in for a difficult weekend, like I'm at now," the Spaniard commented.

"I've done some steps with my driving and changing a few things to try to adapt myself to the balance that I have on the track, but it's proven to be very challenging weekend.

"At this point, knowing what the pace is this weekend, it's more of a damage limitation weekend for me than anything else, because I'm really struggling out there with confidence.

"[I'm] always feeling really, really on the limit of the rear axle, and it's not a nice feeling to have around Baku."

Also interesting:

Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the last week in F1.

F1 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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