Carlos Sainz expects his former employers McLaren to be ahead of current team Ferrari for most remaining races this season but without being able to break into the top three overall.
The Spaniard told reporters at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin that the 79-point gap between the two teams with five rounds left was probably enough for third-placed Ferrari to be safe.
McLaren have roared back from a poor start to the year and have taken 104 points from their last three races, compared to 70 for Ferrari, and are 11 behind fourth-placed Aston Martin.
“I think if we don’t have any other DNS (no-starts) or DNFs (no-finishes), I think we should be able to keep them behind,” said Sainz, who did not start the previous race in Qatar due to a fuel system problem.
“Doesn’t mean that they’re not going to beat us,” he warned. “I think they’re going to beat us in most of the races from here to the end of the season if all things are aligned because they do have a very quick car nowadays and they look to be the only ones that can at certain times bother Red Bull …”
Norris not confident for Austin
Red Bull and now triple F1 World Champion Max Verstappen have already wrapped up both titles with Sainz, in Singapore, the only driver from outside that team to have won a race.
McLaren’s Lando Norris said after Qatar, where he and Australian rookie teammate finished on the podium for the second race in a row, that he felt catching Ferrari was ‘doable’.
“We know on these types of circuits, Mercedes is going to be very strong, Ferrari is going to be very strong, Aston, here in the past have been very strong,” said Norris.
“We knew when we went to Qatar it was going to be a track which really suited us: a lot of medium high speed which is where we’re very strong and almost on par with Red Bull.
“(There’s) less of that here and a lot more slow speed so I’m definitely not as confident but, nevertheless, I’m not saying it’s going to be a bad weekend. I think we can still fight. It’s just going to be a much bigger fight, I think,” the Briton concluded. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)