‘Scares’ and ‘headaches’ – what it was really like to drive the Ferrari SF-23

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, speaks to media in Austria. Spielberg June 2023.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz speaks to the media.

Carlos Sainz admitted to “not enjoying driving” the 2023 Ferrari, saying that he hopes that it will be “more versatile” and easier to set up by the time the new season comes around.

The Ferrari driver scored his second career victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, along with back-to-back pole positions during the year, but it was not enough to match the might of Red Bull in what was one of the most dominant seasons by one team in the sport’s history.

Sainz matched up well against team-mate Charles Leclerc all season, being pipped at the last race of the year in the Drivers’ standings, but despite widespread compliments for his performances, he did not necessarily feel at one with his car all year.

Carlos Sainz admits ‘not enjoying’ driving his Ferrari at times in 2023

Ferrari were locked in a battle with Mercedes for most of the year for ‘best of the rest’ behind Red Bull, though the Silver Arrows finished just clear of the Scuderia come season’s end.

Though Sainz received plaudits for his performances throughout the season, he admitted that he had to adapt quite significantly in order to get the most out of the SF-23.

As a result, he wants to hit the ground running in 2024 with a car that is more simple to get on top of from the off.

“A lot,” Sainz responded to Spanish publication AS when asked about what he wants to see change about the 2024 Ferrari.

“It’s been said that it’s a car that suits me, that I like. Honestly, it has given me headaches, not only for me.

“For my partner, for Ferrari, it’s very difficult to understand. I’m not enjoying driving it, I’ve had to adapt a lot of things and I’ve had to try a lot of set-up things.

“I hope that in 2024 it will be more versatile and easier to drive and set-up, that we have a better race car.”

On the most complicated part of the season, he added: “The start, without a doubt, the Bahrain test.

“To have seen so early on, from the first three runs we did in the test, that the car was complicated and that it gave us scares, that we didn’t really understand what was going on and what we were missing compared to Red Bull.”

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That being said, the Spaniard still believes the Scuderia have been making progress as 2023 went on, despite those “scares” he felt early on in the year.

With Sainz having been the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023, he thinks the team are moving forward.

“I think so, this second half of the season proves it,” Sainz said when asked if he feels Ferrari are moving in the right direction.

“We aimed to maximise the car we had, we made fewer mistakes and a lot of things happened out of our control, but we managed to maximise the weekend and get the performance out of the car quite well.”

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