Carlos Sainz found Friday running in Abu Dhabi challenging, saying that he didn’t feel at home in his car.
In what is set to be one of the most memorable race weekends in the history of the sport, with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton level on points in their title battle, Sainz too has something to fight for.
If he has a strong weekend, he could secure his first-ever top-five finish in an F1 World Championship, but things didn’t get off to an ideal start for him with him not comfortable inside his car on Friday.
“It’s actually been probably one of my challenging ones in the second half of the season,” he told reporters after FP2.
“Right from the beginning of FP1 I just haven’t been at home in the car which is weird because in the last six races we’ve hit the ground running in FP1, FP2 and I haven’t had to adjust the car or my driving too much.
“But today for some reason, maybe due to track changes, the tarmac, the setup wasn’t quite there and I wasn’t there and now we’re just trying to see what we can do for tomorrow.”
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Such struggles have been a rarity for Sainz this season with him settling in quickly at his new team after leaving McLaren for them for 2021 and beyond.
He says the fact that he usually has such a strong understanding of his machinery and surroundings as a whole helps him get to the bottom of the problems that he faces.
“Exactly,” he said when asked if that made things easier.
“I know which things tend to help and which things tend not to help with that balance that I’ve got in the car today.
“So I feel like at least I have the awareness of which items might be interesting to try going into tomorrow.”
Changes have been made to the Abu Dhabi track to try and make overtaking easier this year, but Sainz isn’t sure how much they’ll have the desired impact.
“I think it’s definitely going to help,” he said.
“How much is the difficult bit to say because it still felt very tricky to follow, especially in Turn 1 and Turn 2 which are the corners prior to the two DRS zones.
“But I think if we manage to stay close through there then overtaking should definitely be a possibility.”