Carlos Sainz sympathises with Daniel Ricciardo after ‘feeling ordinary’ at Ferrari

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz salutes the crowd. Austria July 2022.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz waves to fans while putting in his earpieces. Austria July 2022.

Carlos Sainz has said he felt “ordinary” behind the wheel of his Ferrari at the start of the year, while explaining that the way Daniel Ricciardo did not ‘click’ with his McLaren “can happen to anyone.”

Sainz’s retirement at Imola four races into the year left him 48 points behind team-mate Charles Leclerc in the standings, having struggled to match him on pure pace in the early stages this season.

The Ferrari driver said the way Ricciardo could not get the outright pace from his McLaren in the same way as Norris could be applied to anyone on the grid – even citing that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were right not on the pace from the start of this season.

But Ricciardo will be leaving McLaren at the end of the season, a year before his contract was due to expire, as “the team decided to make a change” to put another driver alongside Lando Norris.

Sainz has since halved the gap to Leclerc in the standings, but he knows he could have had a brighter start to the year.

“Yes, I can understand because even my first half of the season, the first three or four races I felt ordinary in the Ferrari and I know how fast I am,” Sainz explained to Sky Sports F1 ahead of the weekend when asked about how drivers with certain styles can sometimes not match up with their machinery.

“And it was like ‘ah, that didn’t give me the right feeling’, and I struggled a lot, and then I managed to improve later in the season and get to a good level.

“I don’t know how the McLaren is nowadays because it’s passed two years already and I don’t know how much that car has changed. But in F1, it’s like that.

“There are cars that adapt well to your style, others that don’t. All drivers have better cars suited to them than others, even the best ones like Lewis and Max.

“At the beginning of the season, they didn’t seem to go 100% with their own cars, you know, so it’s normal. It’s part of our lives. We always have better cars than others and cars that come more natural than others.

“And it happened to me this year, it happened to Daniel at McLaren. It can happen to anyone.”

Sainz goes into the Belgian Grand Prix fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, 22 points behind team-mate Leclerc, but Verstappen is the runaway leader in the title race, sitting 80 points clear of everyone else.