Carlos Sainz is having to balance wanting to win the Bahrain Grand Prix versus all the hype surrounding Ferrari after the pre-season.
Ferrari arrive at the Sakhir circuit as the team to beat, at least that’s according to Mercedes and Red Bull.
The Scuderia have a solid pre-season, showing both pace and reliability from the very first lap.
But as Ferrari have painfully found out in years gone by, pre-season pace counts for very little when the lights go out on a grand prix Sunday.
“Not really, because you still don’t want to believe it completely,” Sainz told Autosport when asked if Ferrari felt they had an opportunity to win the season-opening grand prix.
“In your mind you want to come in here ready to fight for a win, because as a driver you want to be ready, but also not trying to believe too much the hype around us.
“I’m ready for whatever comes because I’ve been preparing myself obviously for this weekend for a while.
“But maybe a bit more after FP1, FP2, FP3, I start putting my expectation somewhere higher or lower.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 17, 2022
As for Charles Leclerc, the Monégasque driver believes it is Red Bull who hold the advantage.
Not only does the Milton Keynes squad go into the season as the defending World Champions, Max Verstappen having won the 2021 title, but the Dutchman was also fastest on the final day of pre-season testing.
Verstappen, driving Red Bull’s upgraded RB18, put in a lap time that was seven-tenths faster than Leclerc’s best.
“I feel we are still a bit behind Red Bull,” said the Ferrari driver.
“I don’t think we are speaking about a second like it was last year, or even more the year before. I feel it’s going to be closer for sure, and this is already a good sign.
“But I still think they are the favourites.
“We need to work as much as we can to maximise the day and be as ready as possible for Saturday, and hopefully we’ll be fighting for the win.
“But I still see ourselves a bit behind Red Bull.”
Ferrari duo downplay hype but are ‘ready’ to win
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc are trying to downplay the hype surrounding Ferrari.