Revealing Ferrari’s 2024 F1 car is “behaving differently” in the simulator, Carlos Sainz isn’t getting carried away as he concedes they won’t know if it genuinely is a better car until it’s on the track.
Back in February, Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna declared the Scuderia’s 2023 F1 car, the SF-23, to be a “single-seater that will be unprecedented in terms of speed”.
His words came back to bite him as the Italian stable was destroyed by Red Bull at the very first race of the season in Bahrain, where Sainz was 48s down on the race winner Max Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz will wait until testing to deliver his verdict
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
That set the trend for the season as Red Bull’s rivals tried to close the gap but all they could do was take turns in running second to Red Bull.
As for Ferrari specifically, their campaign was undone by a tyre-eating car although they did make notable inroads into solving that problem in the second part of the championship.
That saw Sainz become the only driver to beat Red Bull to a race win, P1 in Singapore, with Ferrari finishing the season in third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Now, perhaps having learned a lesson from Vigna’s proclamation, Sainz is telling a cautious tale about Ferrari’s potential progress with the 2024 car.
“I think we’re going to need to wait until testing. I think it’s incredibly difficult to know,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“The car in the simulator is behaving differently, for sure.
“But I think until we put the car in 100 kilos [race fuel] and used tyres, it’s going to be impossible to see how the car is actually treating the tyres, treating the pace and how our race pace is going to be affected.
“That we will only know in Bahrain [testing] when we put it on track. In the meantime, we can just focus on adding performance to that car in the wind tunnel and trying to make it better.”
But while Sainz was non-committal on Ferrari’s potential, and much hoped-for progress, he does believe the Scuderia showed through their 2023 gains that they do understand the concept.
“We understood it and now we just put it on track and we try to maximise it every weekend. I think we are doing a much better job of that,” he added.
“It’s almost unbelievable that these swings in performance can happen. But it is the Formula 1 of nowadays.
“Now we need to focus on making sure… we understand why the car there is strong and why so weak in other types of circuits and corners.”