Carlos Sainz has described 2021 as a “transition year” for Ferrari – and thinks every F1 team bar Mercedes should be focusing on 2022.
The Spaniard is preparing to make his competitive debut in Ferrari red having been brought in as the replacement for Sebastian Vettel, whose contract was not extended last season.
After a poor 2020 in which they finished only sixth in the constructors’ World Championship, Ferrari’s main task this year will be to get back on a par with teams such as McLaren and Aston Martin – Vettel’s new home – and try to close the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull.
A new engine should help the Scuderia, but Sainz is already looking beyond the forthcoming 23-race schedule to when the new Formula 1 regulations kick in for 2022 with the aim of serving as a leveller – and suggests most of Ferrari’s rivals do the same.
Yes, I’m excited. Are you? https://t.co/bnQiEQ88Sm
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) February 12, 2021
“I already see some positive signs from Ferrari and improvements and obviously there is a new engine coming which should again improve the situation a bit,” said Sainz, quoted by Crash.net.
“But I think 2021 is a difficult year for everyone. We all know Mercedes will keep dominating the sport and without a big regulation change there’s a big chance that will continue in 2021.
“So, for me, I think Ferrari and pretty much everyone who is not Mercedes should focus more on 2022 and try to make that the biggest change in the competitiveness of the team.
“I’m already confident Ferrari know that and will try to do that and that 2021 will be a transition year.
“I will be trying to build good relationships and getting to know the car race by race, and then in 2022 we start with a clean sheet of paper and new regulations and it will be more important also.
“I feel ready for whatever comes. I’ve always said my ultimate goal in Formula 1 is to try to be World Champion one day and I’m ready to take that next step at Ferrari and see how it goes. I feel 100% ready.”
Sainz and his team-mate Charles Leclerc have already got something of a head-start on most of their opponents in terms of match practice, having taken part in a seven-driver week-long test with a 2019 Ferrari at Fiorano.
The 26-year-old Madrid-born driver will drive the 2021 version on track for the first time in pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit from March 12-14.