Sainz P3 but ‘really struggling’ with new Ferrari

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz slouched in the Ferrari garage. Bahrain, March 2022.

Carlos Sainz slouched in his chair inside the Ferrari garage. Bahrain, March 2022.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was delighted to be a pole position contender in Bahrain considering his struggles to master the new Formula 1 cars.

Throughout practice at the first round in Bahrain, Charles Leclerc had been the better-performing Ferrari driver and went on to take pole.

But Sainz was very much in the conversation, ultimately securing P3 on the grid, 0.129s behind Leclerc and only 0.006s slower than P2 qualifier Max Verstappen.

It therefore appeared Sainz was comfortable and thriving on the track, but the Spaniard explained that was not the case.

“I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve done throughout the weekend,” he told Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.

“I’ve been very far off, really struggling with this car to understand how to drive it and I’ve been more than half a second behind all weekend.

“So to be even fighting for pole position today was good news for me and to put together a good lap at the beginning of Q3, and then not managing to extract that last tenth, is a pity.

“But at the same time it is deserved. I think Charles has been ahead all weekend. He deserved the pole position and the team did such a great job.”

 

Sainz explained he is having to constantly think about how to drive the car – something that is using up space in his head which he wants to use to focus on simply driving at the peak of his ability.

When asked if he could explain the work he has done to cut the deficit to Leclerc, Sainz replied: “The problem is I’ve never been so far behind.

“Last year at the max I was a couple of tenths [behind] at some circuits where I wasn’t feeling entirely comfortable. This weekend I’ve had to fight a seven-to-eight tenths deficit from FP1 and having to catch back [up].

“I just don’t understand the car fully yet. I’m thinking a lot while driving and this takes a bit of space out of my head while driving, but at the same time I was in the fight for pole position so I can’t complain too much.

“They managed to extract that last tenth when it counted, but for how much I’m thinking while driving I’ll take it.”