Carlos Sainz said that his strong 2021 season has given him the confidence to face whatever is coming his way in 2022.
There was great intrigue surrounding Sainz as he swapped McLaren for Ferrari for the 2021 campaign, a move that saw him go up against one of Formula 1’s most highly-rated prospects in Charles Leclerc.
But despite the hugely shortened three-day testing period, Sainz was arguably the quickest of all drivers moving teams to get up to speed, progressing throughout the season as the heavy crashes which had somewhat overshadowed his form dried up.
Sainz would finish the season with four podiums, his best result being P2 in Monaco, and a points haul of 164.5, securing him P5 in the Drivers’ Championship.
That put him five points clear of Leclerc in the final classification.
2022 will be all change though as brand new regulations sweep into Formula 1, but considering how quickly he adapted and thrived in that first season with Ferrari, Sainz feels prepared to handle the challenges ahead.
Speaking to DAZN, as quoted by Marca, he said: “My expectations would have been to finish a little bit higher. But, honestly, for what I was facing with a new year at Ferrari, the fact that I adapted so quickly and, above all, finished the season much better than how I started it gives me the confidence that it has been a positive year.
“A year in which I have gone ‘in crescendo’. This is important for 2022 because I have gained a lot of confidence. I feel ready for whatever comes next season.”
Silly season started early back in 2020, with the first race having not even taken place when Ferrari confirmed Sainz for 2021.
That season McLaren were comfortably stronger than the Scuderia, claiming P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, while Ferrari managed only P6.
It raised question marks over Sainz’s decision, and whether it was the correct one, but it was a call validated in the following season as Ferrari beat McLaren to P3 in the standings.
But either way, Sainz was surprised to hear people at the time question why he would leave McLaren for Ferrari.
“We came from a long way back, but this is Ferrari. It was a bad year, but this is a team with an extremely high capacity to turn things around,” he said.
“I was surprised when people asked me: ‘why are you going to Ferrari when you’re great at McLaren’. And I thought: ‘how can I not go there’.”
And Sainz believes that by emerging as an equal to Leclerc in 2021, rather than the number two driver some felt he may be, he has earned the respect of the Tifosi, and together with Leclerc gave reason for high hopes come 2022.
“I feel that people are excited. They have seen that Ferrari has the ability to turn a bad year around,” said Sainz.
“They have seen that I came to Ferrari to fight, not to do what some people thought.
“I see the fans looking forward to next season. That opportunity that the change of regulations can give us. The objective is to aspire to world championships because this is Ferrari.”
As for his own personal aims, Sainz said that he has not yet reached the level he is capable of.
“My season went from less to more. Or good, but not perfect. The best is yet to come,” he stated.
Norris in Sainz's 'shadow' at McLaren
Lando Norris has admitted he felt he was in Carlos Sainz's shadow at McLaren.