Sainz encouraged by speed and consistency in 2023

1st place Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Carlos Sainz feels that he and Ferrari have made significant overall progress in performance in 2023 that should set them up nicely for a more successful and competitive campaign next year.

Sainz was just six points behind his team mate Charles Leclerc this season, a significant improvement on the previous year when he was 62 points behind the Monegasque even though he claimed his maiden F1 pole and victory at Silverstone.

Despite Red Bull's dominance and an inconsistent SF-23, Sainz became the only driver other than Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to win a race this year with victory in Singapore, and he was on pole and claimed a podium again in Monza.

“I was coming from a tough 2022, so my goal for 2023 was to get back my speed," Sainz told the media at the end of the season.

"In ’22 I wasn’t as quick as I was in ’21 or with the older generation of cars, so my target for ’23 with these newer generation cars was to understand them better and to be quicker, just have more speed both in qualifying and the race.

"I think I’ve definitely achieved those two things," he stated. "I definitely feel a lot quicker and a lot more on top of the car in qualifying and race trim.”

"I’ve been more consistent this year so I’ve also had higher peaks," he added. "The lows of ’23 haven’t been as low as ’22, so overall for sure has been a better season."

Sainz admitted he was disappointed to finish with no points in Abu Dhabi, meaning that he dropped to seventh in the constructors championship behind Lando Norris, his former team mate at McLaren.

"Unfortunately not exactly what I was looking for, so still more work to do for next year," he admitted.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Although Ferrari finished 45 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' championship, Sainz still felt it was realistic to aim for the title in 2024.

“I think it has to be our realistic aim. Will we manage to do it? Only time will tell," he said. “But I want the team to be thinking that it’s possible because I believe it is.

“I trust this team, I trust the capacity that we have back at home to turn things around." he added. “[Look at] the steps McLaren have been able to do this season - I'm perfectly confident Ferrari can do it over a winter break.

"There’s still circuits where we’re on pole for three-tenths to the Red Bull, it’s just that ... we need to make it more of an all-rounder [in race pace].”

Race winner Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23 in parc ferme. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Sainz put forward his win at Singapore as proof that Ferrari can deliver under pressure when it counts, having swept all the sessions leading into the race that weekend.

"We maximised FP1, FP2, FP3, quali, Q1, Q2, Q3 and the race [which] was I think a huge accomplishment. Not only for me but also for the team, to prove that when the opportunity arrives next year we are able to win.

"We were under pressure that weekend because it was our only weekend maybe to fight for a win, in combination maybe with Vegas," he said. "But we didn't know that at the time.

"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're capable of doing things if we get a good car."

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari with the team. 26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

But Sainz admitted that even in the final races of the season, Ferrari were struggling to fully understand the mood swings of the SF-23.

"It's mentally challenging to understand how in Las Vegas you can out-qualify the Red Bull by three tenths and fight for the win, and then go to Brazil and be a second off the race pace.

"It's almost unbelievable that these swings in performance can happen," he said. "We need to focus on making sure we have more Vegases than Singapores next year."

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