Ross Brawn thinks Carlos Sainz must be feeling “nervous” about next year’s move to a Ferrari team whose Belgian Grand Prix performance was “horrific”.
Before the 2020 season began, Sainz was named as the replacement for Sebastian Vettel next year at Ferrari to partner Charles Leclerc.
Although this has not been a strong last campaign at McLaren for the Spaniard, who has been beset by engine problems, cooling issues and an exhaust failure that prevented him from even starting the Belgian Grand Prix, he must still be concerned about his decision.
That’s because Ferrari have fallen so far down the order that from being World Championship hopefuls going into pre-season testing, at Spa they found themselves vying with usual backmarkers Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Vettel and Leclerc ended up finishing P13 and P14 respectively and Brawn, who was technical director during Ferrari’s golden era of six straight constructors’ titles from 1999-2004, fears Sainz may have made the wrong move to leave McLaren.
“Carlos Sainz hasn’t had a lot of luck in Belgium of late and he drew the short straw once more as a power unit problem led to an exhaust failure that prevented him from taking the start,” said Brawn in his column on the Formula 1 website.
“This has been a tough year for him but he’s a pretty positive guy. He’s a very strong character, his career has been no easy ride after all. I’ve always rated him, I think he’s a great driver and he’ll manage this situation.
“But what looked like a dream move to Ferrari next year isn’t looking too good right now and inevitably, he must be nervous about his prospects next season.”
Brawn blamed Ferrari’s woes at Spa on a failure to get their tyres at the right temperature, rather than a lack of power.
“I’ve been in a situation like Ferrari found themselves in at Spa where you don’t get the tyres to work, the temperature doesn’t come and the drop-off in performance is dramatic,” said F1’s motorsport managing director.
“Regardless of what people say about the deficit they may have with the engine following the technical clarifications, you don’t lose 1.3sec per lap from one year to the next in that metric alone.
“They just couldn’t get the tyres in the zone. The fact it was colder at Spa wouldn’t have helped either.
“When that happens, the performance drops off and looks horrific. If they can make that step and get the tyres working properly again, I think the performance will snap back in.
“They still won’t look race-winning but it will become more respectable.”