Carlos Sainz reckons he was a match for the McLarens, if not faster, in the final stint of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sainz swapped from McLaren to Ferrari in the off season with many questioning whether the Spaniard was regretting his decision given their contrasting 2020 form.
While McLaren was third last season, Ferrari fall to sixth place with their SF1000 woefully off the pace.
This year there are already signs of improvement with Ferrari bagging a double points-haul in Bahrain; Charles Leclerc was P6 with Sainz eighth on his debut.
He was behind his former team McLaren with Lando Norris fourth under the lights while Sainz’s replacement, Daniel Ricciardo, was P7.
Sainz, though, reckons he had the measure of McLaren in the final stint of the grand prix.
“It was pretty good, really,” he told AS of his debut outing for Ferrari.
“In the first laps I lacked having that feeling with the car in dirty air. The fact that two slow cars passed me, like the Aston Martin and the Alpine, set out the first stint and I was very far from the McLarens.
“But I had a very good pace on the medium and hard tyres and I managed to come back, I would dare to say that I had a better rhythm than the McLarens.”
He is hoping that in time, as he gets more comfortable in the Ferrari, he’ll be able to attack as he did while racing for McLaren.
“I’m going little by little,” he added, “it’s up to me to have taken it easy on the first corners and the first laps.
“There will be time to attack at the starts as I did with McLaren, but it was important to complete this first race.”
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) March 29, 2021
Asked to explain that he deliberately took it easy at the start he said: “Yes, much calmer than I would have done with McLaren.
“There I was one hundred percent on the attack and perhaps here I went too calmly because Stroll passed me.
“But I have been aware, I know that when I go into attack mode I will not lose positions, rather I will win them.
“I wanted to complete 56 laps to get to know the car and see my pace compared to the others. And with clean air, I have been very fast.”