After getting to within a tenth of pole position, Carlos Sainz admitted his frustration at his close-but-no-cigar qualifying results after the latest session at Suzuka.
Max Verstappen nabbed pole position ahead of both Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc and Sainz both within 0.057s of the World Champion-elect, with the Spaniard having another near miss for a possible P1 start at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Having gone close to securing pole in Hungary, Singapore and the Netherlands, Sainz thinks he knows where he went wrong this time around in Japan on his final flying lap, but is growing frustrated with not quite getting himself on pole – and hopes to get over that hurdle before the end of the season.
“It was a good lap, clean all the way until the last chicane,” said Sainz after qualifying.
“There, probably I overcooked a bit a tyre going into that last chicane and it cost me quite a bit of lap time.
“Another half-tenth we could have got there but yeah, a bit fed up of being half-a-tenth off pole.
“I think it’s been a few qualys now, consecutives in Zandvoort, also before the summer break, where we are, all three, very tight with each other but somehow it tends to fall into Max or Charles’ hands instead of mine, which hopefully towards the end of the season I will end up getting one and get it out of the way.”
These two What a team effort today ❤️ @Carlossainz55 @Charles_Leclerc #essereFerrari🔴 #JapaneseGP #Quali pic.twitter.com/g5HOMba5zJ
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 8, 2022
Dry running has been at a premium so far this weekend, with rain throughout Friday practice giving way to a dry qualifying session.
Given how little time the teams and drivers have had to get their cars optimised for the weekend, Sainz was pleased with how his F1-75 had handled in qualifying.
“It was pretty close [to perfect],” Sainz said of his Ferrari set-up. “I think we managed to hook up a good balance in FP3, which is a good sign.
“It means we understand the car and we know the baseline set-up normally works well at every track now.
“It’s now a matter of who that last half-a-tenth falls in favour of, which today was in favour of Max. At other circuits, it’s in favour of us. But it’s super-tight, at least in qualy.”
Verstappen could wrap up this year’s World Championship if he converts pole position into a win at Suzuka and if Leclerc does not finish second behind him.
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