Carlos Sainz says he paid the price for Formula 1’s new qualifying format in Hungary, knowing that Q2 was going to be the toughest session for him on the Medium compound.
Sainz failed to make the jump from Q2 to Q3 and the Scuderia Ferrari driver will line up 11th on the grid as a result.
A trial qualifying format being tested for the first time in Hungary mandated all Q1 runners use Hard tyres, all Q2 runners use Medium tyres and all Q3 runners use the Soft compound Pirelli rubber and it was Sainz and Ferrari’s lack of pace on the Medium compound that cost them on Saturday.
“I’ve been feeling a bit weird with that Medium compound all weekend,” he said.
“Every time I was running it, for some reason we were always struggling a lot in sector one, getting them to work.”
“It was even harder than the Hard tyre. So yeah, I knew that Q2 was going to be the toughest session for us.”
“It’s not like on the Softs we were stellar either, but we were definitely more competitive on Soft tyres or Hard tyres than on the Medium compound.”
Sainz’s Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc managed to make the jump to Q3, but failed to make a major impression in the final session of qualifying, finishing sixth, almost four-tenths off of pole.
Sainz admitted that Ferrari expected to fare better in Hungary.
“It’s a track that we expected we would be a bit more competitive also, and unfortunately we are P6 and P11 which is not where we want to be. So still some work to do, especially with the field bunching up so quickly.”
Ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari lay Lewis Hamilton’s pole-winning Mercedes, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, both McLaren’s and Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo.
Sainz was surprised to see McLaren and Alfa Romeo ahead of Ferrari on pace and couldn’t put a finger on the specific reason behind the Scuderia’s slip down the pecking order.
“They are all quick here this weekend. I don’t know if the track is special or if it’s simply a matter of track characteristics, us not nailing the car set up of the tyre preparation, we need to analyse. But we’ve been on the limit all weekend with that Medium compound,” the Spaniard said.
“Even with all compounds, we haven’t been top four, top five, how we used to be.”
Sainz also gave his thoughts on the newly revised Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) qualifying format, noting that fans are being robbed of more action during Friday practice due to the tyre limitations imposed on teams.
“I find it interesting for qualifying. For the rest of the weekend, very dull and very boring,” Sainz said of the format.
“On Friday you spend more time in the garage than running.”
“So why even bother doing two one-hour practice sessions if you don’t have tyres to run, no? Or why even have Friday, if you have no tyres to run on them, to learn from the car, the track and put on a show for the fans?”