Carlos Sainz bemoaned Q3 being decided by track position amid worsening weather conditions resigning him to eighth in qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The threat of a deluge had evaded Friday evening’s session up until the final stage, prompting a dash as the teams tried to get their drivers to the head of the queue.

However, Sainz ended up towards the back of the order, ensuring that he was one of the drivers most adversely impacted by the deteriorating conditions that ensued.

The Spaniard could only qualify eighth, beating Sergio Perez, who was hampered by Oscar Piastri sliding wide at the left-handed Juncao corner, forcing him to slow.

Having clocked the fourth fastest time in Q2, Sainz was frustrated by missing out on the opportunity to accompany team-mate Charles Leclerc at the sharp end.

“We got unlucky there with the weather,” Sainz lamented. “We were one of the last cars to leave the pits, with the cold tyres and the temperature dropping and the rain coming and the gust of wind.

“We were just unlucky today because the pace in Q2 wasn’t too bad and, yeah, a bit disappointed obviously because we were very late to go out. We missed the chance to do a good lap.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari 03.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Qualifying Day.

Sainz believes that he would have been able to extract a more competitive lap time on his only Q3 attempt if he had been positioned further up the road on his out-lap.

“I was P8 in the queue and I qualified P8,” Sainz, who has been promoted a place courtesy of George Russell’s penalty, noted. “P9 and P10 in the queue qualified behind me, so it was clear that the later you were going, the slower the track was… Not ideal.”

Despite only Lando Norris being situated between the Ferraris, Charles Leclerc, who was the sixth driver to start a timed lap, managed to secure a front row starting berth.

Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur lavished praise on the Monegasque, who conceded that he had initially considered abandoning his sole run in the shootout.

“Everyone only got one run in, but Charles did very well to manage his car and secure a front row start,” Vasseur said. “The fact he did not think he’d done a good lap as he crossed the finish line says a lot about how difficult it was to drive in these conditions.”

Vasseur also contends that the position of Ferrari’s pit garage at the far end of the pitlane hindered the team in its bid to secure vital track position over its competitors.

“The position of our garage in pitlane worked against us in Q3 as we found a whole queue of cars ahead of us and that made life more difficult for our drivers when it came to managing tyre temperature,” he explained.

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