Carlos Sainz reckons he and Ferrari “have the capacity” to become World Champions in the 2024 season.
The Spaniard made the bold declaration just before the Christmas break began, when he appeared on a documentary about his life for Spanish broadcaster DAZN.
Sainz spoke about his current position with Ferrari, with whom he’s hopeful of securing a contract extension beyond 2024, pointing to examples of Ferrari’s strengths in ’23 as to why that could be possible.
Carlos Sainz: I’m so happy at Ferrari
Sainz is entering the final year of his deal with the Scuderia, with all the signs pointing towards both sides wanting to continue working together – Sainz has made it very clear that he’s happy to continue as long as he feels “valued” by the Italian squad.
Ferrari ended 2023 in reasonably strong form, vying with Mercedes over second place in the championship, with the performance of the SF23 enough to secure the only non-Red Bull victory of the season as Sainz raced to first in Singapore.
“I am in the best place on the F1 grid to be an F1 champion, without a doubt,” said Sainz.
“Until you are inside Ferrari you don’t experience it. You are practically racing for an entire country. I give my all at work, on the track, training to be World Champion and do it with Ferrari.
“I’m so happy at Ferrari and so happy to be part of this team that, at the moment, I don’t see an expiry date.
“I hope I have many, many years ahead of me and I wouldn’t mind having all of them in red. My main motivation is to be a World Champion.
“And if I can achieve that with Ferrari, even better. That’s what we have to try for in 2024 and I think we have the capacity.”
The 29-year-old said he reckons the equipment he’s being given is almost at the standard needed for wins – but reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was able to make the difference during ’23.
“We mustn’t forget that in some races we were faster than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in qualifying, but it’s true that in the race they beat us,” he said.
“I think Max Verstappen is making the difference, but Red Bull is also making the difference.
“I think there are always drivers who do different things on the on-boards. To tell you the truth, I always obviously look at Max Verstappen because he’s the one who is usually the fastest to try to get close to what he’s doing, but I also look a lot at Lando Norris. I know how good he is, the different things he tends to do on each circuit.
“I ask 2024 for a car to win. If we win or not, then God willing.
“But I ask for a car to win and that I can go out to every race thinking that I can get the victory.”
Carlos Sainz: Singapore defined my season
Sainz capitalised on an off-weekend for Red Bull in Singapore to secure his famous win, which required tactical thinking as he slowed up to allow Lando Norris use his DRS to defend against the faster Mercedes behind.
It was a masterclass performance from Sainz, who beamed with pride about how no other F1 weekend has come close to matching the euphoria of that one just yet.
“If I had to define this season in one word, I would say Singapore,” he said.
“The truth is that I was going very fast, even without perfect laps. I was really fast, even without perfect laps. And I knew that for the last lap of Q3, going as fast as I was going, I could make pole position.
“And then in the race, everything went perfect and that gives you happiness, a satisfaction with yourself, that very few things give you. And like Singapore, I have never felt more fulfilled, more satisfied with the performance of a weekend.
“The victory at Silverstone in 2022 is more emotional, the one where you fulfil a dream, which is to win. The Singapore win in 2023 is more like the satisfaction of having done everything perfectly.
“There have been practically one or two opportunities to beat Red Bull this season. One was Singapore and the other was Las Vegas. In Singapore the opportunity presented itself and we took it. We didn’t miss. And that makes me proud of myself and proud of the team as well. Knowing that when there have been opportunities we have taken them.”