Carlos Sainz tipped his hat to his former employers Red Bull and Max Verstappen, saying their rivals are having a faultless season, while wishing his own Ferrari team had done a “little better and had more luck” than was the case.
The harsh reality is that after 16 rounds of this title race, Verstappen has won five races on the trot, winning from 1oth on the grid in Hungary and from 14th in Belgium, and most recently humbling the Scuderia at their home Italian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull ace is set for his second title in coming races such has been his dominance this year, which Sainz acknowledged in an interview with Mundo Deportivo: “Not only Verstappen but also Red Bull.”
“Max is having a great year but also Red Bull is not failing at anything. Neither in strategy nor in making important decisions. They put penalties in races where they know they will have the strongest car. They are having a very complete season and that makes them very difficult to beat.”
Asked if Tifosi would see Ferrari fighting for the title in 2023, Sainz replied: “I think so. This year we would have fought for the title if we’d done things a little better and had had a bit of luck at the start of the season.
“Why not think that next year there is a new opportunity and it can be achieved. After the big step it has taken from last year to this one, Ferrari has to set that goal,” insisted the Spaniard.
Every one of the six remaining races are an opportunity to win
As for the current scenario, Ferrari have won four times this season, Sainz scoring his first F1 victory at the 2022 British Grand Prix, thus he remains optimistic: “Not unbeatable and unreachable. Every race we are going to have an opportunity and we are going to try.”
Last year Sainz arrived at Ferrari with a bang and by season’s end he beat Charles Leclerc in the 2021 F1 World Championship standings; but this year a similar feat will be tough ask because the Monegasque is second in the current F1 drivers’ standings, with Sainz fifth and 32 points adrift of his teammate.
As for the final half-dozen races on the calendar, Sainz said: “I would like to have a consistent end of the season, especially with the amount of things that have happened to us this year.
“I would like to have a quiet last part of the season, for fewer things to happen to us and to be able to pick up the rhythm and moments for next year, which will be a new opportunity.”
Ferrari have all but thrown in the towel, second place is the best they can do on both F1 Championship fronts; with Ferrari big boss John Elkann just about demanding “titles by 2026′ the pressure is on the Reds to make 2023 work more effectively than they did this year.
Sainz: We have a solid foundation this year with a very good car
“The team is progressing,” continued Sainz. “We have to try to improve a couple of things like reliability and consistency. But we have to bear in mind that this year we have fought against a team like Red Bull that is doing things perfectly. We have to learn and be the one to do them like this next year.”
Sainz, now in his eighth year as an F1 driver, was honest when asked if he was content with his own season thus far: “Honestly not one 100-percent.
“There have been many good moments and moments that I will not forget, like that first victory. It has been a bit of a roller coaster because there have been difficult moments.
“It’s been difficult to pick up the pace and have a run of results this season, there have been reliability problems and that consistency is what can lead you to fight for a title.
“It’s what needs to be improved and I would like to start practising on this,” reckoned Sainz.
Sainz: I have more than 150 races in F1, which is a lot for my age
Drivers in F1 are getting younger and younger, 28-year-old Sainz is no longer one of the Young Guns, but the age gap between the likes of Verstappen and the likes of George Russell and Lando Norris does not perturb Sainz: “I don’t think about it, only when I’m reminded that I’ve been in F1 for eight years. That’s when I realize how quickly time flies.
“It feels like yesterday I made my debut in Australia. I have very fond memories, I remember every race. I have more than 150 races in F1, which is a lot for my age.”
Finally the inevitable question for Sainz who realised what must be every youngster’s dream: driving for Ferrari, how different is it really?
“It’s something that I had already been warned about,” explained Sainz. “They told me to be prepared because the press in Italy was going to be really hard and how big Ferrari is in the world, but until you’re inside you don’t realize the attention it attracts.
“The amount of criticism, especially this year. I have read disproportionate criticism of the team but it is part of the beauty. Being part of such a large organization and an emblem of the motor world makes me feel proud. I don’t see it as a problem.
“I think it is the dream of any driver. Being part of this team and winning is the most you can hope for as a racing driver,” concluded Sainz, who will be competing in his 157 F1 race when he lines up for the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix next week.