No Easy Day Ahead For Carlos Sainz At China

Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz

Perhaps it’s only fair to say that as far as the qualifying and sprint day for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix is concerned, then Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. had quite an eventful day. First up, the successful Spanish driver would find the nose of his Ferrari tucked right behind the Aston Martin of the Spanish Samurai, the man he dearly adores and also his great compatriot: Fernando Alonso.

Few other things were, arguably speaking, more interesting about the 2024 Chinese GP sprint race other than the battle between the two Spanish drivers for the better part of the first half of the contest.

But in so doing, Carlos Sainz also put up a tough resistance to a fast-catching Red Bull of another brilliant and often under-appreciated driver in Sergio Pérez.

Eventually, as things took a dramatic turn in the middle stages of the sprint challenge at China, Sainz, arguably the feistier of the troika of Alonso, Perez and himself saw himself being usurped by the Mexican driver with teammate Charles Leclerc, too, making a pass over his Ferrari.

As most drivers battled hard at the challenging chicane coupled with the high-speed corners of the demanding Shanghai International Circuit, Carlos Sainz’s hopes for a solid top-three finish, which he was almost certain of at one point, withered away.

In the end, he did well enough to keep the attacking McLaren of former teammate, Lando Norris at bay.

But the troubles became real for Sainz during the qualifying run that took place a little over three hours post the completion of this year’s maiden sprint battle.

In Q2, Sainz carried a bit of extra kerb and went over the astro turf to collide into the barriers; a nervy incident that almost, if not entirely, ruined his qualifying hopes.

Red flagging the session and prompting a concerning exchange with his crew over the team radio, that wasn’t going to be all where Carlos Sainz was concerned.

The spirited Spaniard would soon return, perhaps a bit surprisingly for too many watching, to set the second-fastest time, which would soon be bettered by Perez, but not by much.

In the end, Carlos Sainz headed into Q3 as the third-fastest man on the grid behind the two raging Bulls. This was nowhere shy of remarkable as the driver who had to undergo a new front wing on his SF-24 wasn’t perhaps expected to deliver such a belter of a lap.

However, it’s the eventual lack of pace, also a bit of a concern for his teammate, Leclerc, that worsened Carlos Sainz’s qualifying day at China.

While the two Ferraris seemed quick, if not rampant in the dying moments of Q3, they’d eventually be bettered first by the McLaren of Oscar Piastri and later, by Fernando Alonso, before Sergio Pérez’s final lap time bettered this fighting crew.

So what did one see in the end?

Ultimately, the driver who began his most recent Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka-bound Japanese Grand Prix from fourth, but ahead of Leclerc, is poised to begin his Chinese battle from seventh.

What’s worse in this result for Carlos Sainz is that, in all likelihood, he is to lose the 100 percent podium record that he has maintained up to this point.

Lest it is forgotten, barring Saudi Arabia, Sainz won at Australia and gathered a fighting third not too long ago at Japan. Moreover, this time around, he’ll be required to nurse his tyres while also battling with the imposing and never-easy-to-overtake Charles Leclerc; the Monegasque begins from P6 on the grid.

One wonders, can any of it be any easy for Carlos Sainz’s, the sport’s only race winner in the recent past who doesn’t drive for Red Bull?

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrate in parc ferme after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202404200271 // Usage for editorial use only //
SHANGHAI, CHINA – APRIL 20: The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have more concerns ahead of them than just the two imposing Red Bull drivers; there’s the daunting Alonso and the young Piastri in a McLaren (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202404200271 // Usage for editorial use only //

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