Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Singapore, 2023

“Huge accomplishment” of Singapore win shows Ferrari is ready to fight in 2024 – Sainz

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by and

Carlos Sainz Jnr was the only driver outside of Red Bull to win a Formula 1 grand prix this year, and says that win shows Ferrari are ready to take advantage of a more competitive car if they have one next year.

The team was less competitive as a whole over 2023 compared to the year before. Sainz scored 46 fewer points and finished two places lower in the championship than last year. Yet he rates his 2023 campaign as being an improvement.

“The first part of the year was difficult because I think we all expected more, and me included,” said Sainz. “I was a bit disappointed and surprised with the gap to Red Bull in some circuits, and the way that we could not really fight for the targets that we had set.”

“Then for the second half, it was clear for me and the team that it was a matter of maximising what we have, acknowledging the fact that there were going to be races where we were going to be fighting for poles, and maybe for a win, but there were going to be other tracks where we would have to settle for P5, P6, P7 because we were nearly a second off the pace in terms of race pace.

“Acknowledging that and adapting to that is what changed my mindset and [made me] realise that every weekend was going to be a bit different and it was just a matter of trying to be consistent, trying to bring points for the team and maximise what we have.”

Sainz says there had “been very little or few mistakes” after the summer break, and the results showed it as he took pole position and finished third at the Italian Grand Prix, then won in Singapore from pole.

That victory was the obvious highlight of his season, given how few opportunities to win races they had.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“It’s not like we had many chances of winning a race this year,” said Sainz. “And the fact that it appeared in Singapore and we took it and we didn’t waste one single opportunity there. [To] maximise FP1, FP2, FP3, Q1, Q2, Q3 and the race was I think a huge accomplishment not only for me but also for the team. To prove to the team that when the opportunity arrives next year, we are able to win.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023
Bad luck ended Sainz’s hopes of Las Vegas victory
“We were under pressure that weekend because it meant that it was our only weekend maybe to fight for a win, in combination maybe with Vegas. But this we didn’t know at the time. And the fact that we maximised it, we performed, we didn’t fail under pressure and we put together that weekend I think is a great showing that next year we are capable of doing things if we get a good car.”

Sainz’s hopes of repeating his victory in the Las Vegas Grand Prix ended when he Sainz struck a loose metal cover in practice and the damage picked up meant he had a 10-place grid penalty for the race. Team mate Charles Leclerc beat him by just 0.044 seconds in qualifying, taking pole position.

In the race, Sainz recovered from 12th to sixth place while his team mate finished second. Ferrari were left to wonder what might have been if they’d had the front row lock-out they earned.

Sainz admitted it wasn’t always easy to accept the huge swings in competitiveness the team saw between some events.

“We acknowledged the package we have, we understood it and now we just put it on track and we try to maximise it every weekend. And I think we are doing a much better job of that.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“It’s not easy because it’s mentally challenging to understand how in Vegas you can outqualify the Red Bull by three tenths and fight for the win, and then go to Brazil and be a second off the pace in race pace. It’s almost unbelievable that these swings in performance can happen. But it’s the F1 of nowadays.”

However after a 2022 season in which he came a clear second-best to Leclerc, Sainz was encouraged by the closer contest between the pair this year.

“I was coming from a tough 2022, and my goal for ’23 was to get back my speed,” said Sainz. “I feel in ‘22 I wasn’t as quick as I was in 2021, with the older generation of cars. My target for ‘23 was with this newer generation to understand them better and be quicker. Just have more and more speed both in qualifying and in the race.

“I think I’ve definitely achieved those two things. I definitely feel a lot more quick, a lot more on top of the car in qualifying and race trim.

“I’ve also been more consistent this year. I’ve also had higher peaks, so in general, I have higher lows in a way. The lows of 2023 haven’t been as low as the ‘22 lows. So overall, for sure it has been a better season of progress, but unfortunately not exactly what I was looking for. There’s still work to do for next year.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

Ida 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...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

5 comments on ““Huge accomplishment” of Singapore win shows Ferrari is ready to fight in 2024 – Sainz”

  1. If Max would have gotten a bit less unlucky with the Safety car timing he still would have won. So race pace / tire wear still needs a big improvement for most.

    1. @maxv And if Leclerc had gotten a bit luckier with the Safety Car timing in Las Vegas he would’ve won fair and square. Fact of the matter is that Verstappen and Red Bull messed up their qualifying in a circuit where it is extremely important and Ferrari (with both drivers) executed the race to perfection, to the point where they pitted under the Safety Car and still came out ahead of Verstappen. There’s a narrative that Ferrari is a mess operationally but they’ve come a long way since 2022 and seem to be in a much better position this year. I think they’re the best placed team to challenge Red Bull next year

      1. Yes, strategically they were good at singapore, though it was mostly sainz making the right strategy!

  2. Coventry Climax
    15th December 2023, 10:09

    With Red Bull ‘misjudging’ Singapore, Ferrari were given an opportunity.
    According to Sainz, it’s a ‘huge achievement’ they did not mess up that opportunity.
    A child’s hand is quickly filled.

    Also, it says an equally ‘huge’ lot about how well Ferrari generally handle opportunities.
    Which confirms the picture that Ferrari are very capable in ruining their own races.

    With all that being their track record, getting it right just once isn’t an achievement, it’s an outlier, and only getting it right more often than not would be when I would start using the word ‘achievement’.

  3. Not really an accomplishment and more of a “we were so lucky we were the fastest car on a track incredibly difficult to overtake on in the one weekend RB and Max made a mistake”.

    Cause if RB’s setup issues were anywhere else but Singapore we’d be calling Alonso, Hamilton, Leclerc, Norris and Piastri the single non RB race winner this year instead of Sainz.

Comments are closed.