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Sainz surprised he "lacked calmness to react properly" to Australian GP woes

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz says he “lacked calmness to react properly” to the various issues that blighted his 2022 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which he called a “character-building weekend”.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari in paddock

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari in paddock

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sainz topped FP1 at Albert Park and in the subsequent practice sessions and early qualifying segments (he was the lead Ferrari driver in Q2),looked to able to match the times set by team-mate Charles Leclerc – who went on to score pole and lead every lap on the way to victory – before things went awry for the Spaniard in Q3.

Leclerc had just moved to the top of the times in the top 10 shootout when the session was halted after Fernando Alonso’s crash, seconds before Sainz was able to cross the line and set his own banker time.

When the session resumed, an ignition problem on Sainz’s car meant he left the pits too late to complete the necessary extra warm-up lap on the new, smooth track surface in Melbourne, which contributed to a wild slide late in his final lap and his eventual ninth-place grid spot.

Ahead of the race start, a switch issue meant Ferrari had to change Sainz’s steering wheel, with the replacement not set with the correct torque map, which resulted in him dropping five places on the first lap after his car went into anti-stall off the line.

He then retired on the second tour after trying to recover ground and going off while attacking Haas driver Mick Schumacher.

Marshals assist Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75, after a beaching in a gravel trap

Marshals assist Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75, after a beaching in a gravel trap

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Speaking about his Melbourne disaster ahead of this weekend’s race at Imola, Sainz put his retirement off down to a “mistake” that followed “frustration” building up as a result of his various issues, which he said he was unable to react to as usual.

“One of my strengths as a driver is to stay calm in these sort of situations,” he stated. “This time, I lacked this calmness to react properly to the inconvenience that arrived to me at the time.

“And it wasn't a great weekend because a lot of things happened, a lot of external factors happened, but at the same time I didn't have the best reaction to this.

“At some point it had to happen – I've had [17], I don't know how many, points finishes. I don't know how many consecutive races I've been finishing without major mistakes.

“At some point this mistake had to happen. And it happened, which I'm sure I will learn from - like I've done previously in my career and it just me made me stronger. So, a character-building weekend for sure.”

Sainz explained that what he considered to be an out-of-character reaction came because “there was a bit of an extra point of frustration” stemming from the red flag and ignition issues meaning he was unable to grab the headline qualifying results that Leclerc (who has been on pole twice and currently has a 3-0 head-to-head lead at Ferrari) has achieved so far in 2022.

He said: “To suddenly feel like you were in the fight for pole and I was driving well the whole weekend, I was leading some free practices and feeling like I was driving the car really well, [it was difficult to react well].

“Suddenly, the external problems started happening and maybe kicked a bit of frustration.

“Like saying, 'Maybe you need to wait another weekend'. And I said, 'No, I don't want to wait another weekend and I want to go for it!' And it's how it is. It's the beauty of sport.”

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But Sainz said that, after “analysing back at home”, he had concluded that the Australia weekend was “a good reminder to keep doing what I was doing [before]” to return to the form that had brought him those 17 race finishes in the points and three straight podiums (covering the 2021 season into the current campaign).

“It is a lot on the psychology side and how to handle the emotions and the feelings,” he explained.

“It's something that I think is one of my strengths and I don't want to lose it at all. And I think it will keep being one of my strengths.

“It's just I think once in a while in a career of a sportsman or a racing driver you need reminders - [to] keep doing the things that you were doing before that were allowing you to keep the calmness.

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“There's always going to be one tough weekend or one tough race in the life of a racing driver.

“The weird thing is how little I was having before this one - that I was on a very strong run with barely any mistakes and at some point it had to come.

“It can also be triggered by external factors, but I want to keep learning from those.”

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