Carlos Sainz’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix went from bad to worse on Saturday, after he was embarrassingly eliminated in Q1.
The Ferrari driver will start the final race of the season from 16th on the grid, as a result of his final lap in the opening part of qualifying being nowhere near good enough to progress.
Once he discovered that he’d been eliminated, the Spaniard immediately complained over the team radio that he had to deal with “so much traffic”, leaving him “not surprised” to be knocked out so early in the session.
The 29-year-old then accused Alpine’s Pierre Gasly of blocking him “on purpose” on the run into Turn 5.
Onboard footage showed that Gasly got out of the way of Sainz just in time but the Ferrari driver did likely suffer from some dirty air.
However, it didn’t appear to be enough to severely impact Sainz’s lap.
Sainz has endured a troubling end to the 2023 campaign following his collision with a loose manhole cover in Free Practice 1 at the Las Vegas Grand Prix last weekend.
That accident seems to have unsettled Sainz somewhat, as he crashed heavily on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit.
He hit a bump at Turn 3 in Free Practice 2 which sent him into the barrier at high-speed, leaving Ferrari with another huge repair job.
Unlike last weekend in Sin City, Sainz doesn’t have a grid penalty following the repairs to his car; however, even if he did have a grid penalty it wouldn’t have much of an impact on where he’s starting Sunday’s finale.
Ferrari desperately need Sainz to make an electric start to the race, given that they trail Mercedes by four points in the fight for second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Thankfully for the Italians, Charles Leclerc qualified in second, ahead of both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Russell did well to salvage fourth on the grid, whilst Hamilton was eliminated in Q2.
The seven-time World Champion will start in P11 on Sunday but he does have considerably better chance of scoring points than Sainz.
Ferrari’s fight with Mercedes does look set to go down right until the final lap of the championship.