In a surprising turn of events just an hour before the Qatar Grand Prix at the Lusail circuit, Ferrari announced that Carlos Sainz would not participate in the race due to a fuel system issue.
This decision left former Ferrari team manager, Peter Windsor, expressing his bewilderment, as he believed such problems could be resolved on the grid.
Qualifying in 12th place for the Sunday race, Sainz’s teammate, Charles Leclerc, managed to secure a fifth-place grid position.
However, Ferrari’s announcement regarding Sainz’s withdrawal came as a shock to many in the Formula 1 community.
The Scuderia issued a concise statement, stating, “Due to a fuel system issue on his car, Carlos will not take part in the Qatar GP.”
Ferrari had reportedly identified the fuel leak two hours before the race’s commencement.
Despite dedicating an hour to rectifying the problem, they ultimately concluded that there was insufficient time for a fix.
Peter Windsor, a well-known figure in the Formula 1 world, offered his insights in his post-Qatar analysis.
He found the situation perplexing, especially considering the advancements in the technology of contemporary Formula 1 cars.
“Before the race, Ferrari announced that Carlos Sainz wouldn’t be starting due to what they called a fuel system problem,” Windsor remarked.
“Now, this is a 2023 super-complicated, unbelievably sophisticated Grand Prix car.
“A fuel system problem couldn’t be fixed, and Carlos Sainz was unable to start…
“I mean, that hasn’t happened for a long time.”
Windsor went on to recount instances in Formula 1 history when issues related to fuel pressure or fuel metering units were successfully addressed while the car remained on the grid.
He remained bewildered by the inability to resolve the issue promptly.
“It seems bizarre to me that an hour before the race, they said they couldn’t fix this, impossible,” Windsor added.
“I can only assume it has something to do with having to get the tank out of the car or something horrendous like that.”
With Sainz’s absence, Charles Leclerc was left as the sole representative for the Ferrari team.
However, it was far from a successful night for the Monégasque driver, who ultimately finished in the same position he started.
Even with the unexpected boost provided by George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s Turn 1 collision, Leclerc failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
Hamilton’s retirement from the race and Russell’s pit stop for repairs should have presented an excellent chance for Leclerc to secure a higher position, but he ended up being overtaken by Russell.
Windsor acknowledged that the Lusail circuit’s characteristics did not align with the strengths of Ferrari’s SF-23 car.
Nevertheless, he expressed disappointment at Leclerc’s performance and his inability to outperform George Russell under the circumstances.
“Charles Leclerc, fifth in the Ferrari, kind of as we predicted,” Windsor commented.
“This was never going to be a good circuit for Ferrari, as it doesn’t have any of the things that Ferrari does well, and it was a lone performance from him.
“Very disappointing, really, to get blown away by George after the incidents he had. Not a good day for Ferrari at all.”