Sainz upbeat despite continuing poor streak against Leclerc

Carlos Sainz will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in fourth after a mistake on his final run as Charles Leclerc took pole.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is still feeling optimistic for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix despite losing out on pole and qualifying fourth on Saturday.

Sainz was on provisional pole after the first run of the final qualifying session in Baku, but he made a costly mistake at Turn Two on the second attempt, opening the door or Charles Leclerc and the Red Bulls.

They duly took advantage, with Leclerc grabbing pole before Sergio Perez qualifying second ahead of Max Verstappen in third.

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While it was a shame to lose P1 at the death, Sainz is happy with the progress he made as qualifying went on.

“It’s a pity but at the same time I think we’ve done some progress throughout the day and I was feeling in contention for pole,” he told Sky Sports.

“After the last couple of races – especially prior to Monaco – I was not, so good progress [but] that’s what happens when you push to the limit.

“Sometimes you take P1 like I took in Q3 run one and sometimes you overstep it and clearly I did overstep it in Q3.

“Still everything to play [for] tomorrow and starting position here doesn’t matter that much so we’re going to push.”

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Ferrari have converted only two of their five pole positions this year to victory when Leclerc won in Bahrain and Australia, and only two of Red Bull’s five wins have come from pole.

Verstappen won in Saudi Arabia after Perez had taken P1 in qualifying, before taking victory in Imola having also claimed pole there.

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It has been suggestive of Red Bull’s superior race pace, but Sainz is eager to find out if that might just be a different story on Sunday in the land of fire.

“I think we have a pretty strong chance also in the race,” added the Spaniard.

“I think it’s been neck-and-neck with Red Bull.

“Normally Red Bull, 10 laps into a stint, they seem to have a bit better pace but it’s yet to be seen this weekend.

“It’s difficult to predict right now, the long runs on Friday are never long enough to tell us that but with a good start and a smart strategy and driving I think we can still be on the podium or winning tomorrow.”

Leclerc’s pole position was his sixth of the season, and he has out-qualified Sainz in all of the first eight races of 2022.