Sainz’s frustrations continued this morning into FP3 as Ferrari continued to experiment with various set-up tweaks before reverting to an earlier baseline before qualifying.
“[Before coming here] we knew that this circuit would expose us a bit more and yeah, probably with high the speed characteristics, but also then the long corners, high winds like we’re having, today was never going to be easy,” he said.
“I took the approach yesterday and this morning to try different things on the car. Try to change the balance quite a bit and try different things from set up to try and put the car in a different place.
“By quali, I saw that it was not quite working and we had to go back to a more basic setup which in the end probably ended up compromising my quali preparation a bit and my weekend in general, but I’m happy to try those things and now focus on tomorrow.”
Sainz’s qualifying time of 1:29.850s was almost one second slower than the emphatic lap time set by polesitter Max Verstappen. Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc was able to better Sainz by three-tenths on his way to qualifying fourth.
“Charles must’ve done a very good lap but also, I didn’t get a clean sector one in my last lap which probably accentuated a bit the difference,” Sainz commented.
“I’d say he’s been a tenth or two quicker all weekend. [It’s] probably me being a bit distracted trying so many setups and and never really getting into our rhythm didn’t help this approach.
“In the end I went back to a early baseline thing that I know, but obviously I didn’t really run a lot with it so I didn’t really get into a rhythm with it so let’s see tomorrow.
“I think that the more laps I do tomorrow, hopefully the better we will get and the more into our rhythm I will get, and then tomorrow will be a lot about tyre deg and strategy.
“Sometimes, some weekends, you need to challenge yourself – especially at circuits where you know the car is weak. Challenge yourself, challenge the car a bit outside its normal window to see if you can find something and that’s what I tried this weekend.”
The result means that both Ferrari drivers were out-qualified by the McLaren pair, who appeared to be comfortably second-fastest behind the dominant Verstappen.
While Leclerc finished the qualifying hour one-tenth slower than the McLarens, Sainz believes that the McLaren could be even stronger come race day.
“I think McLaren should be one-tenth quicker tomorrow,” he added. “Also, over 50 laps that’s quite a lot of race time even though one tenth sounds like a little.
“But if we have a chance with the power of the undercut here with the amount of stops that we need to do, I think anything can happen.”