Carlos Sainz admits he has a lack of understanding about the new Ferrari that he believes is compromising his form relative to teammate Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari started the season in impressive style, with a 1-2 in Bahrain coming after Leclerc had taken pole position. But Sainz was resigned to a distant third before late issues eliminated the two Red Bull drivers, and he says he was pleased to be in the mix during qualifying given where he feels his deficit is in terms of getting the most out of the 2022 car.
“I mean, I was right there in the fight for pole in qualifying and this was a good news for me, for the lack of feeling that I have with this car and the lack of understanding that I feel I have,” Sainz said. “It was good news to still be able to put in a couple of very strong laps in quali that nearly gave me pole.
“But the fact is that I still need to work on the setup; I need to work on the car understanding. I’ve done my analysis in these three days with my guys and we had a couple of very interesting theories, a couple of very interesting things to try here (in Saudi Arabia this weekend).
“I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of one race. A bit like it was last year — little by little, chip away at it and get there. But we also need more samples. I don’t know if Bahrain was a bit of a one-off and all of a sudden here I am back to where I should be, or where I expect myself to be. So let’s see. It’s still early days.”
Sainz was quick in Saudi Arabia last season and believes the back-to-back races to start this year are a good thing for him despite his slight struggles, as he expects to learn more quickly when driving than analyzing data.
“I prefer (to drive) because I also feel like I just need time in the car to understand it and to figure it out. I think the more time I spend in the car, the quicker I will figure it out and the more chances I have to set up the car a bit more to my liking.
“This is going to be an important test because it’s a very high-confidence track. You need confidence to be fast and close to the walls here, and it will show and tell me how confident I am.”