Sainz under-driving Ferrari to avoid “stupid mistakes”

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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New Ferrari signing Carlos Sainz Jnr admits he is still driving within himself as he gains more experience with his unfamiliar car.

Sainz was fourth fastest at the end of Friday’s practice sessions in Bahrain, almost half a second ahead of his team mate, who didn’t get a clean flying lap in. Speaking after practice, Sainz said he’s not as comfortable yet in his Ferrari as he was in the McLarens he’s driven in the previous two years.

“If you compare this to the McLaren, when the wind changed, I perfectly knew what the car was going to do,” Sainz explained. “So I could anticipate myself and extract it, always independently of the conditions, 95 to 100% of the car.

“When you switch teams and cars, as soon as the conditions change, you don’t know how the car is going to react. So you are always under-driving a bit, you don’t want to do stupid mistakes and you want to to stay a bit below the limit of the car because you don’t know how the car is going to react.”

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Sainz said an unintended consequence of this approach is the effect it has on the feedback gives to the team once he’s back in the garage.

“You need to stay mentally disciplined because you don’t want to give too many comments regarding balance because you are also probably underdriving a bit,” he said.

“Today I managed to adapt well in between the sessions. I managed to feel reasonably at home in the car. But tomorrow could be a completely different story.”

Track conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit are expected to be more challenging today as the wind gets stronger at the track.

“As soon as the wind changes again tomorrow and it picks up, it could be a completely different story,” said Sainz. “I could be starting from scratch again and trying to find my feet, so little by little. The trick here is just let the sessions go by, let the experience build and be patient.”

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2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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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...
Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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6 comments on “Sainz under-driving Ferrari to avoid “stupid mistakes””

  1. Sets great times in practice. Comment: ‘I was under-driving’..

    1. Yeah, perhaps also a bit of humble brag put in there @balue!

  2. Him ending up ahead of Leclerc does sort of indicate that at this point perhaps a more cautions approach as Sainz is taking might be the more profitable on average for Ferrari (though of course, a bonus/freak/lucky good result likely is worth a lot more than a slew of 7-10th places in the races).

  3. New Ferrari signing Carlos Sainz Jnr admits he is still driving himself as he gains more experience with his unfamiliar car.

    Apparently, Racefans has uncovered that they will replace Sainz once he gets more experience. What a scoop!

  4. Obviously he is getting PR advice from Alonso.

    Reply moderated
  5. Grosjean could’ve used some of this advice on his 10 year old career.

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