Sainz predicts even closer midfield at final two races


Carlos Sainz says Ferrari needs to be wary of the potential for an even closer midfield at the final two Formula 1 races of the year, complicating its attempts to secure third in the constructors’ championship.

Ferrari went into the Qatar Grand Prix weekend with a 31.5-point advantage over McLaren and seemingly set for third place, but strong performances from Alpine and Aston Martin saw the Scuderia limited to seventh and eighth in the race. Lando Norris was poised to take a chunk out of Ferrari’s lead as he was in the battle for third before a late puncture demoted him to ninth, but with more teams in the mix Sainz says the next two tracks could also see a greater challenge.

“The last few tracks are a bit of an unknown,” Sainz said. “Jeddah, we have no idea what we’ll find there — it looks like a very high-speed circuit and we’ve seen on a high-speed circuit, cars like Alpine, AlphaTauri, McLaren, all of a sudden the field compresses a lot.

“It could be a very tight battle in Jeddah, and in Abu Dhabi with the new changes they’ve done to the circuit, it looks like a higher-speed track — less chicanes, more high-speed nature — and this could also bring the whole midfield pack together. It could be a very tough couple of races.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto admits he isn’t yet feeling comfortable despite Ferrari now being nearly 40 points clear of McLaren, but feels the final two races won’t overshadow a significant step forward from his team whatever happens.

“We are focused on trying to do the best we can, but no doubt if I look at where we were last year — sixth, very few points in the championship — we made the most of what we could do with the current regulations where most of the car was frozen and there was very limited opportunity of development,” he noted.

“Plus, the budget cap of 2021 meant we had to put (the focus on) 2022 development instead of 2021. Overall I think the team has made great progress (compared to) what was possible; for that I’m happy and yes, the third position is a great output for the effort.”

 



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