Sainz faced brake-by-wire problems with his Ferrari, causing him to remain in the garage until the closing minutes of the session.
In a race against time, he managed to complete a single flying lap that catapulted him from the back of the grid to first place.
“With the challenging conditions in Q1, it was a highly stressful session,” Sainz remarked. “Obviously, it’s far from ideal to have only one lap in Q1, so to secure P1 with that lap was truly heroic.
“Considering the uncertain track conditions and the lack of grip information, placing the lap there with just one attempt was an incredible feeling.”
Running out of fresh soft tires for Q3, Sainz settled for fifth on the sprint grid during Saturday afternoon.
“I was fairly fast in Q2 and Q3 on used tires. However, due to the issue we encountered in Q2 yesterday, we didn’t have any soft tires left. We know that having softs here equates to a three to four-tenths advantage, which explains our P5 position,” Sainz added.
The Red Bull Ring, having experienced heavy overnight and morning showers, had dried up just in time for the F1 sprint shootout. However, reduced grip levels and damp kerbs still posed challenges during the qualifying session for the second sprint of the 2023 season. Teams were grappling with the tire strategy, given the limited availability of fresh sets.
Sainz’s teammate, Leclerc, had a set of soft tires for Q3. However, he admitted that his decision to have only one cool-down lap instead of two between his flying laps cost him, placing him behind Sainz in P6.
“I probably didn’t manage Q3 well,” Leclerc confessed, trailing pole-sitter Max Verstappen by eight-tenths of a second. In contrast, he was only half a tenth behind during Friday’s grand prix qualifying.
“I opted for a push-cool-push sequence, but perhaps a push-cool-cool-push strategy would have been better.
“One cool-down lap wasn’t enough, and my tires were extremely hot. As a result, I lacked grip on the second lap, which is unfortunate but it is what it is.
“Honestly, the car’s performance wasn’t great this morning under those conditions. It was much more challenging compared to yesterday.”
Leclerc hopes for either completely dry or fully wet track conditions in Spielberg, enabling him to move up the order and challenge competitors like Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg ahead of him.
His task has become even more daunting after receiving a three-place grid penalty for impeding Oscar Piastri’s McLaren in Q1, demoting him from sixth to ninth on the starting grid.
Addressing the situation before the penalty was announced, Leclerc expressed, “I hope it’s either fully dry or fully wet because if it’s a mixed track like this, there’s only one racing line, and there’s not much we can do from there.
“Let’s see if we can demonstrate good pace later on and if the conditions remain dry, we can certainly make a comeback.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Austrian F1 qualifying
What issues did Sainz face during Austrian F1 qualifying?
Sainz encountered brake-by-wire problems with his Ferrari, which caused him to be stuck in the garage until the final minutes of the session.
How did Sainz perform despite the brake issues?
Sainz managed to come back out in time to attempt one flying lap, which propelled him from last to first place on the grid.
What were Leclerc’s challenges during qualifying?
Leclerc faced a strategy misstep, opting for only one cool-down lap instead of two between his flying laps. This decision affected his grip and ultimately placed him behind Sainz in P6.
Why did Sainz settle for fifth on the sprint grid?
Sainz ran out of fresh soft tires for Q3, which resulted in him settling for fifth place on the sprint grid during Saturday afternoon’s session.
What were the track conditions during Austrian F1 qualifying?
The Red Bull Ring had experienced heavy overnight and morning showers, but it had dried up just in time for the qualifying session. However, reduced grip levels and damp kerbs still posed challenges for the teams.