Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

More confident Sainz is now a contender for wins – Binotto

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr’s performance in the Canadian Grand Prix showed he has found the confidence he lacked at the start of the season and is now a contender for wins, says Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

The Ferrari driver suffered a series of spins and incident at the beginning of the year in Melbourne, Imola and Miami. Sainz admitted he was not entirely comfortable in the F1-75, which has a more nervous handling balance at the rear than its predecessor.

However he delivered his strongest performance of the season so far in Canada last weekend, chasing Max Verstappen for victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“Carlos is gaining confidence with the car, he is driving faster and faster,” Binotto told RaceFans and other media following the Canadian Grand Prix. “It’s good to see that he certainly was as fast if not slightly faster than Max.”

Last weekend’s race was the fifth time in his career Sainz has finished second, though he is yet to score a win in F1. Binotto said he drove “a very good race” and is on course to take his breakthrough triumph.

“I think race by race he is gaining confidence, improving his driving and being faster and faster,” he enthused. “He is happy, he is more relaxed.

“I’m pretty sure that he will prove in the next races now that he is a contender as well for the win on a single race. So I’m happy the way he drove and it’s important for us as the Scuderia that we can count on him as well, to know that he can be very fast and be a strong racer on a Sunday.”

Sainz qualifying third on the grid in Canada. He admitted to making a mistake at the final corner on his final lap in Q3, which allowed Fernando Alonso to beat him to a front row place alongside Verstappen.

Binotto said it shows the team need to be at the top of their game to beat the Red Bull driver. “To win with such a close fight with Red Bull and Max you need to be perfect in the entire weekend.

“If anything, maybe the quali was not a perfect quali from Carlos. That cost him a bit, maybe.”

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2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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29 comments on “More confident Sainz is now a contender for wins – Binotto”

  1. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. We’ll see.

    1. Yup. Sure, it was good he was on it on Sunday. But on saturday his usual laps when it matters most still was there at the end of Q3.

    2. You’d have to think if Leclerc was behind Verstappen or if the roles were reversed, they would have made a better lunge for the win.

      1. I doubt Max would have given Leclerc a chance either @millionus, it does not seem like the Ferrari had the race pace to offer much more. Although he might have tried a move like he made work on both Alpine cars, I doubt Max would fall for that one.

        1. Yes, I tend to think leclerc wouldn’t have made it either, but surely would’ve been closer.

  2. Chris Horton
    23rd June 2022, 7:24

    Definitely looked better in recent races. We know how good he can be, he proved that last season.

    Vamos Carlos.

    Reply moderated
  3. The performance from Sainz in Canada mostly reminded me of Eddie Irvine’s drive in the Argentina race back in 1997.

    Both drivers were under pressure after a poor start to the season. In both cases, their more illustrious teammates were out of contention (Michael Schumacher was eliminated in a first-lap collision). In both cases, the Ferrari “number two” came close to a first win, chasing home the eventual race winner and putting them under heavy pressure in the closing laps.

    In Irvine’s case it was a false dawn, and it was nearly two years before he finally took his maiden victory, again in circumstances where Schumacher had a mishap. I think Sainz is a better driver than Irvine ever was – but he similarly runs the risk of wasting his chance in a race-winning car, and being consigned to pick up the scraps left by his teammate.

    1. Agree with this, interesting comparison you made about an interesting season, although I didn’t remember that particular race.

  4. Sainz is an adequate number two, that’s all.

    He hasn’t the race intelligence or skills to win a race, let alone a championship.

    1. I agree. I also don’t understand why Binotto is such a huge fan of Sainz. He might nick a few race victories at Ferrari when Leclerc has a DNF and Red Bull makes mistakes.. but on merit.. he’ll just about get on the podium on rare occasions.

      He’ll start the next race weekend getting smashed by Leclerc again.. then he’ll start about how he’s not comfortable with the car etc.

  5. Just Mattia telling everyone how he totally didn’t make a stupid mistake by signing this #2 driver to a long-term contract early in the year.

    1. @proesterchen so who would they be better signing in your eyes to partner Leclerc?

      1. I have not thought about that, at the very least they would have gotten Carlos cheaper and/or on a shorter deal.

        1. @proesterchen I suppose it depends on what you want from the driver. I personally think Sainz is a pretty solid driver and once he gets the car working he’ll grind out good results consistently for you. I think he’s easily in the top half of the drivers on the grid so once you’ve ruled out the drivers who were already signed up the only name that seemed to spring to mind as another option was maybe Gasly. I don’t think they’ll find Sainz a bad performer over the length of his contract so I’d be optimistic he’ll soon get to a point he can pick up the pieces Leclerc leaves.

          1. I think bottas would’ve done a better number 2 job than sainz, extracting “95%” of the car’s performance, which sainz did very few races this year.

      2. @slowmo

        They should have signed Lando before Mclaren gave him a sweet deal.

        Bottas would have been the best option for them though.. he brings championship winning experience and was mighty quick on Saturdays and some Sundays. Plus, he can play #2 driver better than anyone else on the grid.

        1. @todfod I mean if money and opportunity is no issue then sure they should have signed Verstappen or Hamilton. In the real world though the options they had were more limited and Norris was never on the cards for them. For me the 2 best drivers on the grid for the immediate future post Hamilton are Leclerc and Verstappen. Ferrari already have one of them in their stable so there is no urgent reason to sign another huge talent.

          I think Sainz has shown himself to have some real talent but it’s clear he’s probably not going to get to Leclerc or Verstappen’s level but then not many drivers will. I do think Norris and Russell maybe at their level too yet but so far they’ve not yet had the race winning machinery to prove they can take the next step. So when you look at the rest of the grid there isn’t really that much left that looks obviously a better option than Sainz. You mentioned Bottas but I’m not sure that’s just a sideways step at best.

          I asked the question though initially because I just didn’t see the signing of Sainz as a mistake at the time and I still don’t see it now. I think he’s underdelivered this year but then again so many others have too and it’s still early doors. If he gets that first win under his belt and the monkey off his back then we could see a bit of a turnaround.

          1. Russell sort of proved he can take the next step in his 1 race in merc in 2020.

          2. And norris also was on course to hold off hamilton and win russia 2021, it’s only cause conditions went from slicks to full wet that he couldn’t make it work with his tyre choice.

          3. @slowmo

            I am taking money and opportunity in to reference. Which is why I never suggested Verstappen or Hamilton, as neither would want to leave a team that was more successful than Ferrari when they were signing up Sainz. But Norris, was definitely on the cards in 2020. Instead they chose the rubbish Mclaren driver to poach that year.

            Realistically, what they need is a #2 driver to Leclerc. There isnt a better #2 driver on the grid than Bottas IMHO.

  6. Let’s see how he is when Max is hunting him for the win.

    1. @pietkoster

      I just can’t see him in front of Max. Red Bull will have to drop the ball massively on strategy for Sainz to be in front of Max.

    2. Indeed, eventually if you want to be in with a shot at the title you have to go toe to toe with the champions and be able to do it week in and week out.

    3. Not unlike Leclerc, one would imagine. The Ferrari simply isn’t capable of withstanding a DRS-assisted Red Bull challenge unless the circuit is very peculiarly suited to it (like Bahrain). That’s not a fault of Leclerc or Sainz, but of the car.

  7. Looking at Mercedes bringing upgrades and the fact that they looked close in Canada, they should be right up there in UK. Doesn’t bodes well for Carlos if he is off by a couple of tenths, P3 earlier could become P5 now.

    Reply moderated
  8. It’s very weird that Binotto is so determined to never acknowledge that Leclerc is his number 1 driver. Leclerc is probably the best qualifier and one of the top three racers in F1, he’s young and he’s completely loyal to Ferrari. But Binotto aggressively favored Vettel then switched to their weird equal drivers thing even though Leclerc has been consistently faster than his teammates (yes I know Sainz got more points last year but only because he got absurdly lucky and Leclerc was the only one with a hope of winning a race).

    Reply moderated
    1. I don’t think Binotto and Leclerc share a great equation. I think during the Vettel – Leclerc era there were plenty of tensions in that team, and ultimately, Binotto had to favour the yourger, faster and higher performing Lecerlc over Vettel. Don’t know if there’s some leftover tension from those years.. but it seems weird that Binotto doesn’t give him the preference of a #1 driver within Ferrari, even though he completely deserves it.

      As you mentioned, Sainz did get more points last year, but heck, Kvyat got more points than Ricciardo in 2015, and he was definitely not the better driver that year. Similarly, Sainz was just lucky last season, and didn’t show any of the brilliance required by a #1 Ferrari driver that would justify he’s a championship contender. Leclerc would have won Monaco if his car started, and nearly won the British GP as well. He also took a brilliant pole at Baku. I can’t remember one moment of brilliance from Sainz last season. Heck, I can’t remember one moment of brilliance from Sainz in his entire career.

  9. Yes, he did better and he was ok at monaco, we’ll see, so far on balance he’s been disappointing, but would be good for the season if he was consistently at perez’s level.

  10. Drop the guy akready.

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