Ferrari “need to be perfect” to beat Red Bull in 2023 – Sainz

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says his Ferrari team will need to be “perfect” to defeat dominant champions Red Bull next year.

Ferrari began the season with two wins in the first three rounds. But they were overtaken by Red Bull and Max Verstappen over the final two-thirds of the season. Verstappen clinched the drivers championship with four rounds to spare and Red Bull took the constructors title at the following race.

Sainz was comprehensively out-scored by team mate Charles Leclerc in the opening races of the championship after a series of costly mistakes and misfortunes. He later claimed his first career win, and so far only victory of the season, in Silverstone during the mid-point of the year.

Heading into the penultimate round in Brazil this weekend, Sainz sits fifth in the drivers’ championship, four points behind Lewis Hamilton. Asked if he felt whether it would have been possible to take the fight to Red Bull and Verstappen without setbacks, Sainz said “clearly this year, it wasn’t.”

“I’m very far from him in the championship and the way that he has performed, in combination with Red Bull, they’ve been just the faster package – the quicker car, the quicker driver,” Sainz said.

“I do feel like with a perfect year, it should be possible – but we will need to be perfect next year and we will need to improve the car. I will need to improve, especially in the first half of the season and in the races. So that is the target – and you need to put high targets to yourself and onto the team like this. You can try and accomplish them and then let’s see what life brings next year to the table.”

Sainz admitted he struggled at points through the early part of the season but said he was “proud” of the way his form has picked up over the second half of the season.

“It’s been a challenging one,” he said. “There was a challenging first third of the season where I struggled a bit with the car balance with the driving style – a car that for some reason didn’t suit me straight out of the box and I had to fight through it quite a lot. The second two-thirds I have been a lot happier with the car.”

However Sainz believes his upswing in form coincided with increasingly strong competition from the team’s rivals as well as some misfortune

“I’ve been a lot more on the pace but unfortunately [had] a lot of DNFs, a lot of reliability issues along the way. On top of that, it looks like Mercedes and Red Bull did have a better second half of the season. It means that even [when] I’m up to speed with a car and I’m driving well, and I had a solid weekend – for example, in Mexico – the maximum I could get was a P5. So, a bit unfortunate in that regard.

“But I’ve learned a lot. I’m proud of the progress I’ve done inside the car, with my engineers, the way that we managed to turn my pace around. I’ll make sure next year we are back to being the consistent Carlos of 2021 and get good results.”

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2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Ferrari “need to be perfect” to beat Red Bull in 2023 – Sainz”

  1. Perfect is not enough for you to win, you need to ruin your team mates strategy and take advantage of someone elses misfortunes. Maybe he should start by not letting Max past straightaway every time Leclerc is ahead.
    Sainz jr is not good enough. He needs a car over.5 quicker.

    1. +++
      Finally someone noticed too. Dude always lets Max sooo easy! Always trying putting himself as a first to get a right strategy even when he is behind.
      And his race pace is at lest 0.4 slower than Charles, some races even higher.
      One race where he was faster cuz Ferrari saved engines., was Mexico.

  2. Not once did he seem capable winning on pure pace alone unlike Perez.

    The sooner Ferrari put him in the Bottas role the better. Not good enough for a top team as he got exposed this season by Leclerc and the sooner Ferrari put the Bottas role on him the better.

  3. Maybe support the number one driver first and see how you get on from there.

  4. I think Sainz is right here. Yes, Ferrari cannot make the stupid strategy calls they were making, they will have to iron out how they will be prioritizing their drivers before races to avoid losing too much time arguing about any team orders. They need to also improve their pitstops and their in season development.

    Off course they then also need their drivers to cut the mistakes. All of it will be needed to have a decent shot. Still, it is a long shot with Red Bull most likely building on their success in the last 2 years (they have picked back up the level they were on before the hybrid engines with their team operations level), and with Mercedes most likely being close next year, being there to take points from Ferrari or even potentially ahead of them it will be hard to do.

  5. ‘Having to be perfect’ is usually a nice way of saying the car isn’t good enough. If the team has the car to beat, a driver can start halfway down the grid, spin in races, have off-weekends, multiple retirements, bad tyre strategies, slow pitstops, and still break win-records at the same time.

    And good for Verstappen for being in that position, by the way. That’s totally fair. But no team is going to be perfect for 23 or more races. That just doesn’t happen. The trick is to be good enough to have a buffer so a team and driver can miss the mark a few times.

    1. Indeed, ferrari made many mistakes this year, but there was no chance overall with the speed their car had, the main thing here is they lost too much on development, but that isn’t new either, was also happening when it was ferrari vs merc.

    2. And also in the vettel era.

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