‘It’s a shame’: Ferrari make Carlos Sainz admission

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz's current contract will expire at the end of 2024, and negotiations are yet to commence.

Ferrari’s Qatar Grand Prix got off to the worst possible start on Sunday, even before the race had actually begun.

Just under an hour prior to the race getting underway, it was confirmed by the Italians that Carlos Sainz wouldn’t be starting, after the team detected a fuel leak on Sainz’s car.

Given the timing of the detection, it was simply too late for the Maranello-based team to try and repair it.

It came as a huge disappointment to Sainz and the entire outfit, given just how well the 29-year-old has been performing recently.

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Prior to the Qatar GP getting underway, Sainz had claimed two podiums and two pole positions in the space of three races, with one of those rostrums having been victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Even if he had started at the Lusail International Circuit, a podium finish wasn’t really expected.

Ferrari struggled slightly for outright pace in Qatar, with the SF-23 having struggled to deal with strong gusts of wind.

In fact, Ferrari’s car looked the most unsettled on the grid, something which resulted in Charles Leclerc only managing to finish fifth.

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The Monegasque ended the race 38 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen, whilst the 25-year-old also finished behind George Russell, who was last at the end of the opening lap after spinning at the first corner following a collision with Lewis Hamilton.

It meant Ferrari actually lost some ground on Mercedes in the fight for second in the Constructors’ Championship, having been reducing the Germans advantage over recent races.

Mercedes now sit 28 points ahead of Ferrari with five races remaining.

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Given that Hamilton retired from the race, Ferrari would’ve likely outscored Mercedes in Qatar had Sainz been able to start, something team principal Frederic Vasseur admits is a “shame”.

“It was too late to change something, but it’s a shame,” Vasseur said to Sky Sports.

“It’s a shame because he was in a good momentum after Monza.

“I’m not quite sure about the strategy. Today it will be difficult. But I think it’s a completely different story compared to the rest of the weekend.”