Ferrari upgrades overhyped? Carlos Sainz hits out over ‘out of reality’ Imola predictions

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz looks quizzical

Carlos Sainz is in his final season as a Ferrari driver

Carlos Sainz has accused the F1 media of overhyping Ferrari’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix upgrades, insisting the improvements were never going to allow the team to “kill” the opposition at Imola.

Ferrari arrived at their first home race of the F1 2024 season armed with a major upgrade package – featuring changes to the sidepods, floor and rear wing – in an attempt to close the gap to Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz: Ferrari Imola upgrade ‘smaller than people think’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Although Sainz‘s team-mate Charles Leclerc set the pace in two of the three practice sessions at Imola, the Ferraris could only manage fourth and fifth on the grid with Leclerc more than two tenths adrift of Max Verstappen’s time for pole position, though both will move up a place thanks to a three-place penalty for Oscar Piastri.

Despite a seemingly disappointing display, Australian Grand Prix winner Sainz claimed Ferrari’s improvements had worked “exactly” as the team’s simulations had suggested.

And he took aim at the media for coming up with numbers that were “completely out of reality” for the new package.

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He told media including PlanetF1.com: “It’s worked exactly as we expected.

“For some reason, everyone expected us to be flying this weekend with a new package. I’ve been seeing numbers of our package going around that were completely out of reality nowadays.

“To bring a tenth is a good job by the team. I’m not saying we brought one, two or half a tenth, but not the numbers people were mentioning.

“And with that in mind, it was always going to be difficult to take a jump this weekend because people are also upgrading their cars here.”

Asked to put a more accurate figure on the value of Ferrari’s upgrade, he replied: “I’m not allowed, that’s why I cannot say.

“But by telling you that the numbers were out of proportion, I’m telling you enough and you can unlock the password yourself.

“Still, I think the car is better than what it was in Miami.

“We measure more downforce, everything is working well. It’s just not enough yet for a circuit that is not favouring our car.

“When I saw the track – I drove it in the simulator – I always saw Imola being a McLaren track – and also, obviously, a Red Bull track.”

Speaking to Sky F1 after the session, Sainz doubled down on his stance that it was unrealistic to expect the upgrade to turn Ferrari into overnight victory contenders at Imola with a leap rivals McLaren enjoyed at the previous race in Miami.

He explained: “I know the media and the people might be disappointed, because they thought: ‘New car, new life.’

“But I knew the numbers and the numbers from the new package were not enough to suddenly go P1, like McLaren did in Miami or here.

“Our upgrade was smaller than what people think and I tried to say that in the media actively all week and people didn’t seem to buy it and expected us to kill everyone today

“I was always convinced that the upgrade is smaller.

“I cannot tell you the numbers, but if I would tell you, you would be surprised.”

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