‘I’ve never been so far behind’: Sainz reveals why he’s satisfied with qualifying despite being behind Leclerc and Verstappen

Carlos Sainz ended qualifying third behind Max Verstappen and team-mate Charles Leclerc, who took pole.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was relieved to be in the battle for pole after what has been a difficult weekend so far for the Spaniard as he qualified third in Bahrain.

Ferrari spent much of last year developing ahead of the new technical regulations being introduced in 2022, and they entered the new era emphatically, taking pole position through Charles Leclerc, with Max Verstappen slotting his Red Bull in between the Scuderia drivers.

The 27-year-old reveals that his team-mate was able to find a bit more pace than himself.

“There was that extra tenth that Charles managed to extract there at the end,” he said after qualifying.

“To be fair, I’m happy with the progress that I’ve made throughout the weekend; I’ve been very far off.

READ: Leclerc delighted with pole but warns ‘anything can happen’ in the race

“I’ve been really struggling with this car to understand how to drive it and I’ve been more than half a second behind all weekend so to be even fighting for the pole position today in qualifying was good news for me and to put together a good lap there at the beginning of Q3 and then not managing to extract that last tenth is a pity bit at the same time it’s deserved.

“I think Charles has been ahead the whole weekend and he deserve the pole position and the team deserves a great job.”

The former Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren driver reveals that he has been fighting a deficit hitherto not experienced by him this weekend, and congratulated Leclerc for pole.

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“The problem is that I’ve never been so far behind,” he explained.

“Last year at the max I was a couple of tenths [down] in some circuits where I was not feeling entirely comfortable.

“This weekend I’ve had to fight a seven to eight deficit from FP1 and having to catch back.

“I just don’t understand the car fully yet and I’m struggling. I’m thinking a lot while driving and this takes a lot of space out of my head while driving but at the same I was [in the] fight for pole position so I cannot complain too much.

READ: ‘I don’t know’: Verstappen unsure of Red Bull’s relative pace

“He [Leclerc] managed to extract that last tenth when it counted but for how much I am thinking while driving I’ll take it.”

Ferrari will head into the race in search of their first victory since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.