Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have revealed the team sacrificed the Sprint Shootout to save tyres for the two upcoming races in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Saturday qualifying session that determines the grid for the shortened Sprint race mandates the use of the Medium tyre through SQ1/2 and the Soft rubber in SQ3.

Despite Leclerc and Sainz retaining a brand-new set of the red-walled compound, Ferrari elected to conduct their solitary runs in the final segment on previously used tyres.

Consequently, Leclerc and Sainz could only wound up seventh and ninth respectively, split by the AlphaTauri pair ahead of the truncated 24-lap encounter later today.

However, both drivers admitted that the side purposely gave up an added performance edge in Sprint qualifying to utilise the fresh Soft tyres at another point in the weekend.

“Nothing special, I don’t know who else was on scrubbed tyres but we were, we had old tyres on,” Leclerc said. “We expected to not be great, but we are keeping the new tyres for somewhere else in the weekend. So let’s see if it pays off, I hope so.”

Sainz added: “On the Medium we were actually quite competitive in Q1 and Q2. And then for the Soft, we decided to save the new tyres for the race… or the newer sets. In Q3 we decided to sacrifice a bit the Sprint quali to hopefully have a better race on Sunday.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23 and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 in the pits. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.

Leclerc, who will start Sunday’s grand prix from the front row, suspects Ferrari will again be hindered by its ongoing race-day struggles across the remainder of the weekend.

Despite being cautious of the Maranello-based squad’s pace on long runs, the Monegasque racer remains hopeful that he can gain multiple places in the Sprint race.

“I’ll do my best to try and make some positions, we’ll see. Normally in the race we struggle a bit more,” he acknowledged.

“I don’t even know the standing, I think [Yuki] Tsunoda was in front, so we should have a better pace than him in race pace, hopefully we can overtake him and gain one or two positions in the Sprint. And then focus on tomorrow and try and do the best job possible.”

While Sainz is also confident that he will have the speed to overhaul the AlphaTauris, the Spaniard asserts that Ferrari is lagging behind its main rivals at Interlagos.

Asked if points were possible, Sainz replied: “I want to believe so, that we can beat the AlphaTauris. I think everyone else is just a bit quicker than us this weekend; the Mercs, the McLarens, just a bit quicker.”

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