Carlos Sainz accepts that Max Verstappen will take the title, so he is focused on returning Ferrari to winning ways as they build for 2023.
Judging by how the season started off, it seemed like Ferrari were going to be the team who rivals found it very difficult to catch, Charles Leclerc winning two of the opening three races.
But Red Bull wrestled away control as the season went on, helped by Ferrari shooting themselves in the foot on multiple occasions.
The situation now is that with victory and the fastest lap bonus point at the Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen will be crowned a two-time World Champion.
Although Sainz’s team-mate Leclerc is not out of the fight mathematically, Ferrari trailing Red Bull by 137 points meanwhile in the Constructors’ standings, Sainz says Verstappen will be World Champion again in 2022, that is only a matter of time.
2023 then is the focus of Ferrari’s attentions to strike back, but Sainz explained that the current season remains crucial to this, with as many victories as possible in the last five rounds targetted by the team to boost their efforts.
The Scuderia have not appeared on the top step of the podium since the Austrian Grand Prix in July.
“We’re going to do everything we can to win, which also slows down their success,” said Sainz ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, as per Motorsport.com.
“It’s been a while since we won, but the goal is to just win everything. We know that sooner or later Verstappen will be champion anyway.
“With those wins, we are preparing for 2023. The aim is not specifically to delay his title win. We know he will take it anyway. As Ferrari we want to be victorious, keep learning and run weekends perfectly. That builds confidence and that brings Ferrari more success.”
Red Bull had begun to pull away from Ferrari not only in terms of points, but performance as well, Verstappen having taken five victories in a row.
That streak ended in Singapore though, Verstappen starting P8 after a qualifying mishap from Red Bull and finishing a scruffy race by his standards in P7.
Leclerc meanwhile claimed P2 having challenged Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez for the win earlier in the race, with Sainz completing the podium to ensure that both Ferrari drivers featured in the celebrations for the first time since Miami.
Sainz now goes into the Japanese GP with optimism, expecting the Suzuka circuit to suit Ferrari’s F1-75.
“Winning at least one win before the end of this year should already motivate us and make us feel good,” Sainz continued. “This means we need to have a perfect weekend, which is what we need now.
“At Zandvoort and Spa we didn’t have the pace, but at Monza and Singapore things were already better. We were maybe not faster than Red Bull in the race, but more in the fight.
“Suzuka should suit us. It consists of long straights, with medium and fast corners. This has to suit our car. Our car is fast almost everywhere, but it’s purely down to how we do against Red Bull.”