Wet setup gamble backfires for Sainz in Austria qualifying


Carlos Sainz Jr was left ruing his decision to run a wet setup in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday as he finished 13th overall.

A rain shower towards the end of Q3 had left the track damp for qualifying, prompting Sainz to run with a wet setup on his car in the hope that conditions would worsen throughout the session.

However, by the midway point in Q1, the track had dried enough for the regular soft and super-soft tires to be used, thus putting Sainz at a disadvantage by the time Q2 came around.

His fastest lap time of 1:10.465 was three-tenths of a second shy of the time required to make it through to the top ten shootout, leaving him 13th in the session and 12th on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

“A bit of a disappointing qualifying session for me today, especially because we’ve chosen the wet set-up for today which will make tomorrow’s race complicated unless it rains,” Sainz said.

“It’s a shame, because I have been quick throughout the whole weekend and the first part of qualifying, but when it came to the moment that counted I got stuck in traffic in the first and second sectors and that ruined my lap.

“I hope it rains tomorrow because if not it will be a very complicated race due to the downforce level we’ve chosen. Overtaking will also be difficult but, obviously, I will try my best.”

In the sister Toro Rosso, Max Verstappen stuck with a dry setup and managed to qualify seventh on the grid for the race on Sunday.

“I’m happy with P7, I think it’s a good result,” Verstappen said. “Q1 was very difficult. We started on the intermediate tires and then we switched to the super-softs even though the track wasn’t completely dry and some braking zones still had some wet spots.

“It was easy to lock-up but I took it easy, avoided making any mistakes and got through to Q2. The track was dry then so you could do your own lines and the car was working very well.

“I think we’ve been showing good pace all weekend and even though it will be a difficult race for us on the straights, we can get a bit of an advantage in sectors two and three and fight for points again.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.