Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has admitted that Ferrari’s current inability to be in the running for individual race wins is far more painful then their lowly fourth place in the constructors standings.
It’s certainly not what the team had been expecting this year, after a strong start to the 2022 championship saw them take a big lead in the championship over Red Bull.
Even though their rivals soon turned things around and went on to take the driver and team titles, Ferrari was convinced that it would be able to carry its improvement into the current season and be a real threat to take the crown.
That’s not proven to be the case. Ferrari are currently in fourth in the standings behind not just Red Bull but also Aston Martin and Mercedes, and the team has been on the podium just once in Azerbaijan.
While the squad scrambles to get the SF-23 up to scratch, Sainz admits that it’s not being close to a win every week that really hurts, rather than being in the doldrums in the championship.
“It hurts me more, the gap to Red Bull,” he told The Race website in a recent interview. “It’s just how fast the Red Bull has turned out to be this year, and how it has struck us by surprise.
“It doesn’t hurt me so much, being fourth in constructors’ or fifth or sixth in drivers’,” he insisted. “It’s not only us, I think Mercedes and Aston Martin would never expect to have the gap they do.
“If [we were] fourth in the constructors’ but knew that every weekend we have a chance to make a pole and win a race, it would be easier to accept.”
It certainly feels like a big step back on last year where Charles Leclerc won two of the first three races of the season and Sainz himself captured his first pole position and race win at Silverstone.
“I felt like 2022 was a bit of a comeback finally to the top for Ferrari, and I feel like we all expected to at least be fighting at a similar level,” he said.
“It’s been tougher than any other year,” he admitted. “Not only me but the whole team had this hope, this expectation, and suddenly finding yourself more than half a second adrift from the Red Bull was tough to handle.
“You suddenly need to reset, go back to the drawing board, and make sure you keep everyone motivated,” he continued. “Trying to get the whole factory aligned and motivated on the next step is the most challenging.
“The amount of work that is going on right now in Maranello with the development plan is huge,” he added. “I’ve seen the factory for myself and everyone in a good place right now.
“Mounting that challenge is short- and medium-term what really motivates me,” he said. “If you win it or not, it’s a championship fight. You can come out on top or not.”
Inevitably the team’s problems have left many wondering about both drivers’ futures with the team, with Sainz’ own contract set to expire at the end of 2024.
The Spanish driver has been linked to a possible move to the new Audi works squad which will make its bow on the grid after taking over Sauber which currently operates the Alfa Romeo franchise.
But Sainz dismissed such notions: “My immediate future, I only see it with Ferrari and wanting to be successful with this team,.
“There’s nothing that would make me happier than winning again with Ferrari, than mounting a title challenge with Ferrari.
“I feel really at home with the team,” he added. “There’s a good atmosphere. I know there’s a lot of noise around, but
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