Carlos Sainz Jnr says he still has room to improve after out-qualifying Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc for the first time.
Sainz secured fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix, his best starting position for Ferrari and almost three tenths quicker than his team mate.
Being the first Ferrari driver on the grid “doesn’t hurt”, said Sainz, but he believes he has more room to improve.
“The fact that I did two good laps in Q3 gives me a good feeling that we’ve made good progress with my driving style” says Sainz.
“An important thing is that I did it twice in tricky conditions. It was very, very tough. The last sector, you guys cannot imagine how unpredictable the cars are and how difficult it is to drive.
“I’ve tried also different things in the set-up that I’ve come back and forth here recently. And it’s given me a better feeling and that we’re making good progress, but there’s still things to discover for sure.”
Sainz says taking a different approach to his new Ferrari for this weekend has benefitted him on the track.
“If you want to extract the absolute maximum out of this car, you need to adapt your driving style,” he explained. “With the head winds, with the tail winds, with understeer or with oversteer, you just need to drive differently and you need to have that experience to know how to drive each corner.
“This week I’ve put a lot of effort and focus into each corner and how to drive it. There’s a lot of thinking going on inside the car. I am proud that it is working and that the work with the engineers and everyone back in Maranello is paying off.”
Sainz said he is still learning a lot from his new team mate. “For sure it doesn’t hurt [to out-qualify Leclerc] especially because I know that every time Charles is out on track, he’s extracting a lot out of the car, pushing like crazy.
“I’m enjoying it, because I’m a guy who whenever I’m on track, I’m pushing flat-out. I don’t save anything in Q1 or Q2 – I’m always at the limit. He has a very similar approach and I’m enjoying learning a lot from him and learning how he manages to nail those laps in Q2 and Q3. Still a lot to learn.”