Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz blamed Mexico’s high altitude for their lack of speed and competitive performance in Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix.
Sainz was fifth and Leclerc sixth, their worst two-car finish this year, as they were well-beaten by both Red Bull and Mercedes with world champion Max Verstappen winning ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. George Russell was fourth in the second Mercedes ahead of Sainz, who came home 58 seconds adrift of victorious Verstappen.
“Going into the weekend with this car, at this altitude, we knew we were going to lose quite a bit of performance,” said Sainz, acknowledging that the team’s aerodynamic and engine performance had suffered.
Mexico City is more than 2,000 metres above sea level and the rarefied atmosphere has an effect on turbos, cooling systems and brakes as well as delivering less air resistance. Like many teams, they had to turn down their engines to preserve them and ensure reliability, but they hope to return to full power in Sao Paulo next month.
“Today, I felt like an explanation was that it was a bit of a one-off here in the different conditions and I hope we can come back to our usual performance in Brazil,” Leclerc said.
“I felt like we maximised absolutely everything and even though we did that we are still one minute away from Max, which is a huge difference. So we have to look at making our bad days better because when we have a bad day, especially on a Sunday, it is a really bad day.”
After enforced retirements in Japan and the United States, Sainz was at least happy to complete the race. “We were a minute away, but I haven’t finished a race in a month so it was nice to actually do that,” he said.
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