Carlos Sainz Jnr admits he still isn’t fully comfortable in his Ferrari with just four races season left to go in this year’s championship.
Despite having scored his breakthrough victory at Silverstone earlier this year and picked up a pair of pole positions, Sainz still doesn’t feel like he’s able to drive the F1-75 naturally.
“There’s cars where you drive them and you know without even looking at the lap time you’ve done a good lap and you know there’s not going to be your team mate or someone else going quicker than you,” he explained. “And then there are other cars that you think you’ve done a good lap time but you know it’s not going to be enough because you’ve done some mistakes here or there.
“Then there are cars that you need to think while driving and there’s cars that you drive naturally. And this year while driving I need to think a lot.
“I need a lot of headspace to know that this kind of corner, I need to do it that way, this kind of corner, I need to do it the other way. And I’m sure there’s hundredths, thousandths of seconds that go away while you’re thinking about the corner that is coming. It’s okay, I can do it. I’ve been pretty quick lately, especially over one lap, but it’s still not ideal for a racing driver.”
Sainz finished ahead of his team mate Charles Leclerc in the championship last year but is 50 points behind him with 112 available over the remaining races. He says he lost too much ground early in the season, when Ferrari were at their peak.
“Those first six or seven races when the car was the most competitive, he was doing the pole positions and winning the races. Lately, obviously, I got a lot of more up to speed and I’m driving a lot better the car.
“But also it’s true that the car is not maybe at the level that it was at the beginning of the year, or let’s say Red Bull has stepped it up. It’s not as easy to score a pole position or a win as it might have been at the beginning of the year.”
However Sainz admitted Leclerc has “done a better job to me this year” in the car. “Clearly, both in driving and race execution. He felt straight away more at home with the car than me. I’ve been in this fight through the whole year to try and get myself to a level similar to last year.
“Am I there? I don’t think so. I think I still have a few things with this car that still don’t come naturally and I would need to change a lot of things.
“I’m now at a decent level where I’m confident that I can score some good results and be consistent with it. But I look forward also to next year’s car and see if I can get straight away more on the pace.”
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