Carlos Sainz insists ensuring Ferrari close out P3 in the Constructors’ Championship is more important than the individual tussle he is involved in.
Living up to his ‘Smooth Operator’ nickname, the Spaniard enjoyed a more serene qualifying session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix than he did in Saudi Arabia a week earlier when some tricky moments led to a P15 grid slot.
This time, the Ferrari driver popped up at the top of the timesheet temporarily in Q2 thanks to a set of soft tyres and then pumped in an impressive lap of Yas Marina at the end of Q3 to bag a P5 start – two places ahead of his team-mate, Charles Leclerc.
Although Lando Norris starts two places in front, Ferrari are 38.5 points ahead of McLaren in the chase for P3 and that looks almost impossible to turn around in this last race of the season.
But very much up for grabs is the honour of being the leading non-Mercedes or Red Bull driver of 2021 with Leclerc, Norris and Sainz covered by a range of only 8.5 points.
Sainz, however, maintains that is not a target for him in Abu Dhabi, even though it would represent an excellent achievement if he could finish ahead of his esteemed team-mate in the standings in his first season with the Scuderia.
🇦🇪 Good P5 only hundreds away from P3. Taking care of the tyres in S1 & S2 to attack in Sector 3 was key. Passing won’t be easy tomorrow, but we’ll go for it. I’ll push to end my first season with @ScuderiaFerrari on a high!
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) December 11, 2021
“I look at it but then I think to finish P5, something has to happen to Charles and Lando, and I don’t want anything weird happening to Charles tomorrow because we want this P3 in the Constructors’,” the 27-year-old told Sky Italia.
“For me, it does not change a lot finishing P5, P6, P7 [individually]. Already being in the fight with Lando and Charles when they are in their third year with the car, for me it’s already a good year.
“If I finish this year with a good race at the end, I head to the winter with a lot of confidence and happy, so that does not change my life.”
Of his much more positive qualifying session than seven days earlier, Sainz told Formula 1.com: “I needed it after a difficult one in Jeddah, where I was very quick but not clever enough to know how to use my speed. Here, I wanted to take it little by little through the weekend and I definitely peaked at the right time in qualy.
“Not an easy qualy because there were a lot of games going on with strategy, with out-laps etc, but we managed it very well and put together a nice lap at the end.
“Lando must have done a pretty good one because mine was nice, so congrats to him and tomorrow we’ll give him a run.”