However, the Spaniard believes that Ferrari’s tendency to deliver during Sprint weekends this year could counteract the Lusail venue not suiting the team’s current package.
Asked whether he is expecting this to be a damage limitation weekend for the Italian outfit, Sainz said: “Yeah I think you can see a car is a bit like that. How we can go in Singapore from winning the race to wind up 40 or 50 seconds off the race leader?
“It’s how it goes this year for us, long combined corners again here in Japan and most of them are medium speeds which is where exactly as you pointed out this we know it’s our weakness.
“So yeah I don’t care. It’s just if the car is there to be P7 on Sunday I want to be P7, if the car is there to be P3 we want to be P3. See how it comes at the same time, we’re a team that normally performs well on Sprint weekend, so hopefully that compensates with the track characteristics.”
The challenge awaiting the drivers with only one practice session ahead of qualifying will be magnified by FP1 taking place in unrepresentative daylight conditions.
Sainz, though, has also pointed out that the newly resurfaced track surface since F1’s only previous visit two years ago will represent another unknown variable.
Questioned on the test provided by having to lock in a set-up without running in twilight conditions, Sainz assessed: “It’s not only that. I think it’s the heat, it’s the new surface, which looks very dirty at the moment, I don’t know if they’re cleaning it or not it looks very new, like no one’s run a bit like Turkey 2020.
“So I’m hoping that everything turns out to be good because it’s going to be a lot of unknowns and a lot of things to adopt during FP1 and we’re going to be hitting qualifying at much higher speeds in the night, especially with these thermally limited tyres we are going to be a lot quicker and we’re going to need to adapt, so plenty of challenges out there.”
Despite Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur issuing that the Japanese GP demonstrated the strides the side has made with tyre management, Sainz insists that degradation has not been its primary problem this year.
“You know, I think our biggest weakness is tyre life more than tyre deg. And yeah, I mean, with a two-stop race you can kind of manipulate that a bit more than when it’s at one stop and you’re on the limit of the tyres for the two stints,” he explained.
“Having said that, it was good progress. We’ve been also working a lot on the tyre management side with the drivers we have the tools of the car and we’re hoping it’s incremental gains.
“They always say F1 is never something out of the blue, it’s always incremental gains. And I think we’ve been doing that from the beginning of the season.”