Sainz says McLaren’s drop in form ‘a nasty surprise’
McLaren Formula 1 team drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris say that wind sensitivity was the cause of the drop in form of the orange cars between Monza and Mugello.
After the pair qualified third and sixth for the Italian GP, they slipped back to 10th and 11th on the grid for the Tuscan GP, with Sainz calling the turnround a “nasty surprise”.
Norris’s preparations were not helped by a crash on Friday, which saw him damage the front of the car and lose valuable track time.
“I think this is not going to be the last time where we see these kind of performance swings between teams from track to track,” said Sainz.
“On paper, we thought this track was gonna be good for us. Before going into this weekend we thought these kinds of corners were going to suit us, but the midfield of F1 always has surprises for you.
“And this has been a nasty surprise. But I think we kept our heads down and we managed to improve the car quite a lot going into qualifying. So we also need to be happy and proud as a team that we didn’t lose our heads too much.”
Both drivers stressed that windy conditions at Mugello highlighted an inherent problem in the car.
“It’s been the same case since 2019 when I arrived to McLaren that we felt like our car is very sensitive to tailwind corners mainly,” said Sainz. “And it’s very good in headwind corners. So both sides of the thing.
“Once you get in a tow, what you have is a lot more tailwind, you basically have tailwind in every corner.
“That’s why in places like Monza we were talking about trying not to go in the tow of some of our competitors, because we found that that generated a tailwind in our car, and we don’t like how that tailwind reacts in our car.
“It’s something we are investigating, and we are trying to improve, and trying to understand. Why is this causing these kinds of effects, and why are we suffering a bit more?
“Slipstream means tailwind, and we are bad in tailwind, as we saw here in Mugello in a lot of the first sector and second sector corners.”
Norris said that the track surface also played a part in the team’s struggles to come to terms with Mugello.
“It’s the wind and tarmac,” said the Englishman. “I think those two factors. Mainly wind, it’s not one of our strengths, it’s one of our weaknesses with wind, and there’s been quite a bit of wind the last two days.
“And that’s been probably one of the biggest factors in our struggles, in the mistakes and so on.”
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl stressed that the team has been working on the wind sensitivity issue.
“It’s definitely something we are aware of, about this weakness of this car since last year, as Carlos said,” said Seidl.
“And that’s something that James [Key] together with his aero department is putting a lot of effort into, simply trying to reduce this sensitivity by continuous developments we bring to the to car.”
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