Carlos Sainz believes the overall talent level of Formula 1 drivers is overlooked by the recent criticism of Fernando Alonso.
The two-time former World Champion returned to the series in 2021 with Alpine, but so far is very much still in the process of getting back up to speed.
A late surge saw Alonso make his way into the points at the Portuguese Grand Prix, but it came at the end of a weekend when he was comfortably the second best driver at Alpine to Esteban Ocon.
Alonso himself has pinpointed qualifying as a weakness, but Sainz feels criticism in Formula 1 is always fickle. One day the talk is negative, the next all is good, as was the case for Alonso, and overlooked is the calibre of drivers the Spaniard is competing against.
“I am amazed at how quickly people draw conclusions. They do not realise the level of driver and cars and the competitiveness there is today in F1, that it is difficult to adapt quickly when you have drivers with so much experience,” said Sainz during an event organised by his sponsor Estrella Galicia 0,0.
“After two years without competing at that level there will always be races or qualifications to suffer, but it was seen that Fernando passed them quickly and on Sunday he did a great race without magic tricks, with work, and suddenly all these criticisms become admiration, which is how our sport is.
“One day they criticise you and then you are great, so every time I believe less criticism and assessments, which are based on the day-to-day.”
For Sainz, the closing stages of the Portuguese Grand Prix were torture in the Ferrari as he sunk into the pack with his medium tyres, ultimately finishing outside the points in P11.
Alonso was one of the drivers to overtake him, but Sainz feels no need for revenge at their upcoming home race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“I prefer to be in front and not have to overtake him. Everyone saw we were suffering and how little resistance I was able to put up,” he said.
“I’m happy for Fernando. He had a good a race and he deserves it. The key to that race is that we shouldn’t have gone backwards.”
While Alpine, it seems, have now reinserted themselves into the midfield scrap with Ferrari and McLaren, up at the front it remains very much about Mercedes and Red Bull as they slug it out for the title.
But Sainz believes Hamilton is currently the stand-out of that leading battle, citing the way the Briton was able to stay close to Max Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, passing them both at Portimao.
“I was surprised at how easily Hamilton passed Verstappen and Bottas. With the ease he did it, you have to go a lot faster and do something special,” Sainz explained.
“He’s at an incredible level with the Mercedes – which is no faster than the Red Bull – to do the races he’s doing. My admiration, my respect, amazed at that ability to go fast in the race.”