Carlos Sainz concerned cars becoming harder to follow again with 2023 challengers

Henry Valantine
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in the pit lane. Jeddah March 2023.

Carlos Sainz jogs through the pit lane on his way to the grid. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz believes the 2023 cars are beginning to feel like their predecessors in that following other drivers is becoming a “limitation” on performance.

Sainz was overtaken on the first lap after a brave move from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll saw him launch a pass around the outside of the banked Turn 13 in Jeddah, and the Spaniard faced a tough task to find his way back past again in the race.

He was unable to do so, with Stroll able to keep Sainz at bay – and the Ferrari driver explained that he took too much life out of his tyres in his first stint as he searched for a way by the Canadian prior to his retirement, though he feels the 2023 cars are now harder to follow behind again.

The 2022 regulation reset was done with a significant focus on improving cars’ following capabilities, with the switch to ground effect aerodynamics brought in to aid drivers while following each other and not losing as much downforce in the process in turbulent air – with pre-2021 cars having been heavily affected when racing in close quarters.

The number of on-track overtakes increased in 2022 compared to the 2021 season, but the Ferrari driver is concerned the improvements in downforce on this year’s cars may be making the problem of ‘dirty air’ resurface again.

“I probably paid the price during the first stint with the tyres because I did want to pass him [Stroll], but in the end I paid the price,” Sainz explained to Sky Sports F1 after the race in Jeddah.

“These cars in dirty air have got a bit worse compared to last year, probably adding downforce and the new regs.

“They are starting to become a bit like the old cars where the dirty air is becoming a limitation, and today it wasn’t that easy to pass – but in general, I don’t think it would have changed much the end result.” recommends

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Sainz eventually took sixth in the race while Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc came home seventh, recovering after a 10-place grid penalty dropped him to 12th at the start of the race.

The Scuderia had held high hopes of reeling in some of the advantage Red Bull had at the front of the field heading into the weekend in Saudi Arabia, but Sainz admitted the team ended up further away from the head of the pack – and work will be underway at the team’s base in Maranello to assess where they need to improve.

“I think right now, or today, we were the fourth fastest car on track and we need to see why,” he added.

“We need to improve and it’s already two different tracks where our race pace is not great. So we know we have work to do.”