Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz says he has a few tricks to try out in Saudi Arabia as he looks to cut the gap between himself a younger teammate Charles Leclerc.
Sainz landed in Jeddah eight points behind Leclerc after he followed him across the line in a Ferrari 1-2 at the end of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
It was the Italian team’s first 1-2 finish since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, and the first time a Ferrari driver has taken pole position and won the opening race of a new season since 2007.
But while his team appear to have built the car to beat as the F1 paddock moves on to Saudi Arabia, Sainz has a driver ahead of him in the form of his teammate.
Leclerc appeared to be quicker than Sainz all weekend long in Bahrain, beating him to pole position and running well clear on race day in his battle for the lead with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Sainz, meanwhile, found himself fighting Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez for the last step on the podium before a late-race Safety Car and Red Bull reliability issues confirmed his second-place finish.
Sainz has a few “interesting ideas” to close the gap to Leclerc
Sainz was honest about his relative lack of pace at the 2022 curtain-raiser, confessing that Leclerc had gotten the better of him.
But after spending Tuesday and Wednesday analysing his own performance, the Spaniard is confident that he has a few tricks up his sleeve to help close the gap.
“I was right there in the fight for pole in qualifying, and this was good news for me, because of the lack of feeling that I have with this car, and the lack of understanding that I feel I have,” he said, speaking to select member of the media, including RacingNews365.com.
“But the fact is, I still need to work on the set-up, I need to work on my car understanding. I’ve done my analysis in these [last] two days with my guys and we have a couple of very interesting theories and a couple of very interesting things to try here.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of [catching up in] one race but, a bit like it was last year, little by little, I’ll chip away at it and get there.
“We also need more samples. I don’t know if Bahrain was a bit of a one-off and all of a sudden, here, I am back to where I should be, or where I expect myself to be, so let’s see.”
Does Sainz feel as confident as Leclerc behind the wheel of the F1-75?
Leclerc drove with complete confidence in Bahrain, even allowing Verstappen to overtake him at Turn 1 three times with the faith that his Ferrari, armed with DRS, would be able to breeze back past into Turn 4 – which he did.
Sainz will now be looking to prove that he has that same level of confidence in his Ferrari car at a circuit that rewards risk like few others.
“I think the more time I spend in the car, the quicker I will figure it out – and the more chances I will have to set up the car a bit more to my liking,” he said.
“I think this is going to be an important test for me, because it’s a very high confidence track, you need confidence to be fast and close to a wall here, and it will show me and tell me how confident I am.”