Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2021

Sainz: “Very difficult” to be 100% ready for first race with Ferrari

2021 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says it will be hard to begin the new season at the top of his game, partly because of how little testing drivers are able to do this year.

Teams are allowed to conduct just three days of pre-season testing with their new cars. The single session will take place in Bahrain next month ahead of the first race of the championship.

The former McLaren driver took advantage of the opportunity to test Ferrari’s 2018 car at Fiorano last month. “My intention is obviously to be 100% ready for race one,” Sainz told media including RaceFans yesterday.

“But realistically speaking from my experience changing teams during all these years, that is very difficult to achieve.

“There’s always experiences, feelings that you need to go through race-by-race, or race weekend by race weekend, in free practices and qualifying and in the races, that you always end up learning during the races rather than in testing.

“One day and a half of testing per driver is not going to help [much] for sure. But at the same time, I’m going to try and count on my experience of changing teams lately and try to arrive to race one at my maximum level, my 100% level, which is a level that I considered I was showing in McLaren race-in, race-out.”

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Sainz said it was “very difficult to tell” when he will reach that level with Ferrari. “My intention is as soon as possible, and if it’s from race one then [that’s] better.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2021
Sainz had his first run in a Ferrari last month
“But that depends also in the first feeling with the car, what feeling the car gives you straight away out of the box and how close you think you are to the limit of the car straight away. I’m going to need a bit of time to find that out and I’m going to need a bit of time to experiment with my set-ups, with putting the car a bit more to my liking and see where we can go for the future.”

Sainz is well-practiced at adjusting to life in a new team, having driven for Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri), Renault (now Alpine) and McLaren within the last four years. Sainz said he was impressed by his first run in Ferrari’s SF71H, but was unwilling to draw comparisons with his recent cars.

“I’ve changed teams quite a few times recently and I’ve never come out in the media and compared the cars due to the respect to the teams that I’ve been in and respect also to my team, because it’s also a performance advantage to know and compare different cars and I don’t like speaking publicly about it.

“What I can tell you is that the 2018 Ferrari Formula 1 car was a very good car and it’s a car that impressed me straight away out of the garage in Fiorano. I enjoyed it a lot because it allowed me to feel a Formula 1 car again after a couple of months of [being] stopped. The balance, the power, the driveability, it was quite impressive.

“I remember in 2018 looking at how good that Ferrari was, looking at the onboards and immediately as soon as I jumped in the car I could feel why that car was so successful in 2018 and why it took so many pole positions and wins. So I definitely enjoyed it. And Fiorano for me was a great day just to feel that and my first day as a Formula 1 Ferrari driver.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Sainz: “Very difficult” to be 100% ready for first race with Ferrari”

  1. How is a driver comparing cars he’s driven a ‘performance advantage’ when comparing cars is something teams do anyway through onboard footage, images, etc.?

    1. @jerejj Surely he’s talking about the feel of the car(s) that only the driver can communicate that they can’t possibly understand from pictures and videos. That to me is what RBR will have asked Perez about probably minute one as well, and I’m sure they’ll have many more discussions once he is in testing and actually able to make a more apples to apples comparison of what the Mercedes pu felt like compared to their Honda pu. Well the whole (RP) car really given it’s a Mercedes knock-off but Marko did particularly mention the pu.

      1. @robbie OK, I get it better now.

      2. Richard Cantelo. (@)
        27th February 2021, 18:20

        Yeah, I think you’re right it what you say, thinking about it. Good point.

  2. Not unsurprisingly, he managed to put some bragging in with the in-advance excuses. Trouble is it nullified his argument as he can’t have been at 100% level race-in, race-out while at the same time admitting that from his experience, that is unrealistic coming to a new team.

    It’s also not ideal to say he was at 100% level race-in, race-out when that level was not really exceptional.

    I know a lot of people fall for that kind of stuff, but for those who are not into driver fandom/worship, it’s quite grating, especially as it’s almost every statement from him.

    PS. Is it just the photo angle, or did he gain weight? There’s hardly a jawline. Maybe with a long-term contract and a write-off year on the cards, he could enjoy his pizzas more?

    1. @balue classic sainz, just like his father. Very clever.

    2. @balue You sound like someone who is not a fan. Usually it is the case that when a driver points out the realities, to fans they are reasons and to non-fans they are excuses. I’m not a fan of his but nor do I have any issues with him and I think he is saying what many drivers would say about moving to a new team. It takes time to adapt but the better the car or the more comfortable they feel with it the sooner, then the sooner they can give it their all. Until then it’s a steeper learning curve. I expect the same for SP going to RBR etc.

      1. @robbie Much like me with Verstappen, @balue and @peartree rarely miss a chance to criticize Sainz. Personally I can’t see what’s unlikeable about him, but at least it makes for interesting reading.

        But yes, 90% of the time drivers say stuff like this it’s in reply to how the media framed a question. But also… if they weren’t at least a little bit big-headed, they probably wouldn’t be racing drivers.

        1. @tflb Oh for sure, well said and you’re being honest. Big-headed? Yeah all kinds of athletes in all sports have to have some of that I agree, but it can also just be big confidence in themselves. As you say they didn’t get where they are by doubting their abilities for otherwise they would have never instilled confidence in those around them to hire them or back them and send them up the ladder.

          1. @tflb @robbie are you having a monologue?

          2. @peartree What? We’re not the same person if that’s what you’re implying.

          3. @peartree Anyway, I wasn’t particularly criticizing you, as I’m similar about Verstappen. It’s irritating when you have a go at Sainz even when he’s not mentioned in an article, but this article is about him, so fair game!

          4. @tflb one thing is sure thie article is most definitely not about verstappen.

          5. @peartree No, I was using my dislike of him to illustrate how some people (you and me both) can be consistent in our dislike of certain drivers. I didn’t say anything negative about him here. I’m not in a glass house throwing stones; I know I’m prejudiced. Are you self-aware too?

          6. @tflb you are tetchy. chill.

  3. @balue To me, he doesn’t look like he’d gained weight, although I admit to agreeing with you regarding the difficulty of identifying a jawline. What caught my attention immediately the first time seeing the top image is that he seems to have a vein or something on the right cheek. On a similar note, perhaps I should also note that some other drivers have noticeable veins appearing on their arms when they’re walking in paddocks wearing short-sleeved shirts (Ricciardo, Gasly, Norris, and even Juri Vips in F2). Yes, this is TMI, but I couldn’t help myself, LOL.

    1. The line on his face looks like a mark from the helmet padding.

  4. Already making excuses I see.

    Never understood the hype over this guy.

    1. There is not really a hype is there? Playing second fiddle at Ferrari is hardly a compliment, especially already at such young age

      1. Some media and fans are hyping him way too much. Even this site rated him higher than standouts like Leclerc who was knocking out poles and wins while Sainz had trouble with a nervous rookie. Seems some just get taken in when drivers big themselves up.

  5. Richard Cantelo. (@)
    27th February 2021, 18:24

    It’s not his fault his jaw fell off….that actually makes him lighter!

  6. Not a very flattering photo, Carlos is a handsome chap, this makes me think of an Umpa Lumpa.

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