Sainz thinks Hamilton/Max ‘beatable in the same car’

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz on the Russian GP podium. Sochi September 2021.

Carlos Sainz disagrees with the notion that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are head and shoulders above all of their rivals in Formula 1.

At times during the 2021 season, it looked as though the two World Championship protagonists were in a different league to the other 18 drivers – even though their respective team-mates had the same car.

Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, of Mercedes and Red Bull respectively, were unable to live with Hamilton and Verstappen for race pace in particular, that being most evident at the Qatar Grand Prix where the leading duo built huge time gaps over the opposition.

But Sainz, who joined Verstappen and Hamilton on the podium at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with his fourth top-three finish of the year for Ferrari, thinks the pace differential is attributable more to the cars than the drivers.

“With the same car I think they can be beatable, or at least on more equal terms than they were this year,” said Sainz on Spanish TV programme El Hormiguero and quoted by AS.

“Mercedes and Red Bull were faster by eight tenths of a second per lap and I want to think that between all the drivers there is no more than two or three tenths of a second difference.

“The issue is at least as old as the history of Formula 1 itself – ‘if there is a driver who drives a car eight tenths of a second faster, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you will never be able to beat him’.

“I hope F1 can be more balanced next year so we can have more fun and compete at a similar level.”

 

Sainz also discussed again the “status” of he and his team-mate Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, having said recently the last few races of the season had shown there was no team leader – as he ended his first year with the Scuderia being the leading non-Mercedes or Red Bull driver in the standings.

“I don’t know if this changes my status or not because I’ve always believed at Ferrari we started on equal terms,” said the 27-year-old Spaniard, who completed the campaign with 5.5 points more than Leclerc, who has been with the Scuderia for two years longer.

“In Formula 1, this battle is given importance because it’s the only one with the same car as you, so you can only compare yourself with your team-mate.”

 

No team leader at Ferrari?

Carlos Sainz believes that there is no team leader at Ferrari.