Regarding Art Red Bull Racing and Mercedes cars, Ferrari finished third during qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanas Rodríguez as Sainz could only finish fifth on Sunday’s grid – as Charles Leclerc battled and qualified seventh behind Alfa Romeo Valtteri Bottas.
The Ferrari in particular seemed to struggle in the high-speed Esses, and there were times when drivers had to make course adjustments to overcome the low-grip conditions.
Sainz admitted that the conditions were not particularly suitable Ferrari F1-75, but hoped it would be nothing more than a “one-off” – and felt there was more performance in the car that was left untapped.
“There was probably a bit more, but the car was difficult to drive,” Sainz explained. “And usually when it’s tough, it’s tough to put the circles together like we did in Austin.
“There must have been a couple of tens in the bag today, but as difficult as it was, I think I got quite a few out of it. We’ll just have to see, I think we’ve lost quite a bit of performance at high altitude, but we’ll have to see because I think it’s an isolated case.
“I think it’s a track that didn’t really suit us. But we tried to do our best.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75
Photo: Sam Bloxham / Images of motor sports
When asked how the altitude affected the car, Sainz felt that the Ferrari’s transmission was not as powerful in dealing with the 22 percent drop in air density.
He also explained that the Ferrari had struggled to get the tires on and he got the feeling that coaxing the car through the Esses was a “fight”, but added that the team should not be too dismayed by the flying difficulties.
“The altitude shouldn’t affect us in terms of cornering speed,” Sainz continued. “So I guess maybe there’s something going on with the tires and maybe the engine as well. I think the height for this engine is not going quite the way we wanted it to.
“Before coming here, we knew we would have to make some compromises. And then the tires and the car, it was just hard to drive on curbs and bumps.
“It was a fight [through the Esses]. That’s why I couldn’t assemble the circle. We will dig deep, but at the same time we should not despair too much.
“I think it’s a very special track, a very special scenario, and we need to analyze what we could do better here and see if the pace of the race improves.”