Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Finishing near Perez shows Ferrari have taken “big steps forward” – Sainz

Formula 1

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Despite Red Bull’s one-two finish in the season-opening race, Carlos Sainz Jnr took encouragement from how close he finished behind Sergio Perez.

The Ferrari driver took the final podium position in the first race of the season, 25 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen but just under three seconds off the second Red Bull.

After and overtaking George Russell and twice passing his Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, Sainz says the feels a lot happier with the start of the 2024 season than he did with many races last year.

“I’m very happy,” Sainz said. “When we were at the car launch, I remember saying ‘this year, I hope I had a car to overtake and not to defend’. Last year, I spent my whole year defending.

“We arrive to the first race and I am attacking and making overtakes, which makes me happy. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the move.”

While recognising there is still a big gap between Ferrari and Verstappen in particular, Sainz said the performance of his new car shows the team are heading in the right direction.

“I’m happy with the overtakes, with the race pace,” he said. “Keeping up with Checo there at the end wasn’t easy, but we managed. Still a long way to go to beat Max, but it’s true that we’re also at the toughest circuit on rear tyres, which we know that for our car is never the best.

“Also because I feel we were just in that distance – two or three seconds – that you cannot properly show your pace because you are in dirty air. So I think we were very close on pace to Checo today, which means big steps forward.

“It also shows there’s a long way to go to beat Max. But at least we overtook people, we didn’t overheat the tyres, we didn’t degrade. It was it was fun out there, I truly enjoyed it.”

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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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9 comments on “Finishing near Perez shows Ferrari have taken “big steps forward” – Sainz”

  1. They’re better than in 2023, they’re worse than in 2022. I’d probably feel more relieved than happy.

    1. I heard somewhere that LH’s contract with Ferrari is worth $100 million a year. I think if I was Fred Vasseur I would have kept Carlos and used every dollar of that money to purchase Adrian Newey’s services.

      1. Driver salaries (Hamilton) are not in the cost cap. Engineers salaries (Newey) are in the cost cap.

        1. Top 3 highest earning employees don’t form part of the cap. Newey’s salary wouldn’t be part of the cap either.

        2. Even if paying Newey $100 million did come out of the cost cap budget, which we know it wouldn’t, I think I’d still hire him and let the team build the car out of LEGO with money that’s left!

      2. I don’t believe it 100 mil a year, I think it has to be 100 mil total across the possibly 3 years they hired him for, but agree about trying to get newey, he’s the difference maker nowadays when the car is 7x more important than the driver.

  2. Sainz 1
    Leclerc 0

  3. The Red Bulls are running at 80% power. VER was 5 seconds ahead after 7 laps and was the last driver to pit. He came out at 10 or 12 seconds ahead of the field after pitting.

  4. I appreciate the positive sentiment but… who cares? They’re still miles off.

    Verstappen pulled a sizeable gap early on, still pitted later than anyone, and then cruised to the finish… and was still almost half a minute ahead. It’s like Reagan purposefully not campaigning in Carter’s home state Georgia to spare him the embarrassment of a clean sweep election.

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