Carlos Sainz conceded that he could not match Max Verstappen or Red Bull’s speed but believes he could still turn pole position into his second career victory for Ferrari in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The Spanish driver, who was second behind Red Bull’s world champion and series leader in Saturday’s qualifying, overcame a messy session to take the prime grid position thanks to Verstappen taking a grid penalty.
“It was a bit messy at first, but I managed to go second quickest on the first runs in Q3,” he said. “The out lap was a mess playing with the tow, but in the end I had to lead, with no tow, and it was good enough for P2.
“I knew that would be good enough to give me pole.”
Verstappen’s pace lifted him clear by 0.632 seconds, an advantage that left Sainz perplexed. “We are all a bit puzzled by it, so we wonder what will happen in the race,” he said.
“But I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace so there is definitely something there for us to find.
“We just need to keep digging to see why Red Bull is so fast around this track and why we are trailing them, but to start from pole is a good place to start and we will try and win from there.”
Verstappen will start 15th, one place ahead of title rival Charles Leclerc, who trails him by 80 points. Both drivers have taken new engines for the race.