Sainz warns major SF-24 upgrade needed to keep up with Red Bull


While Ferrari secured a surprise 1-2 in the Australian GP, race winner Carlos Sainz warns that the Scuderia will need wait until its first major upgrade for a chance to consistently challenge Red Bull.

Sainz was comprehensively outpaced by Max Verstappen in Saturday’s qualifying shootout at Albert Park, while a right rear brake failure on the Dutchman’s Red Bull in the early laps of the race opened the door to the Spaniard’s third career win in F1.

It was a dominant display by Sainz, who crossed the finishing line two seconds ahead of Leclerc, with McLaren’s Lando Norris nearly six seconds adrift.

Ferrari’s progress relative to Red Bull - especially on race day - is undeniable. But until the Italian outfit introduces its first proper upgrade, Sainz reckons his team will struggle to keep up with the reigning world champions.

But a significant update for its SF-24 scheduled for next month’s Emilia Romagna GP could prove a game-changer. Ferrari might also slightly benefit from a minor aero tweak scheduled to be implemented at Suzuka later this week.

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"Our car worked really well this weekend," the Spaniard said in melbourne. "But it's going to be tough to keep it up there in every track until we bring an upgrade to close that gap that we saw in Bahrain and Jeddah.

"But around Australia, from lap one, it felt like a race-winning car. And even if Red Bull were also quick and were on pole, that [1min15.915sec pole lap time] in quali wasn't out of reach for us.

"There will be tracks where we are strong like we saw last year. And this year it seems like our race pace is better even on those tracks that we are stronger. And together with a good development programme, I hope that we can challenge Red Bull more often."

After the Australian GP, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez believed that Ferrari was a step ahead of the bulls around Albert Park, suggesting that a Scuderia win was on the cards even without Verstappen retirement.

Sainz was perhaps less confident of such an outcome but the 29-year-old nevertheless felt that he could have – at the very least – given Verstappen a solid run for his money.

"I felt like I could keep up with him on the first lap and try and take DRS, just to make sure that… DRS around here is super powerful," he added, having completed lap 1 with a nine-tenth gap to the leader.

"Then he lost the car into Turn 3 and there was my chance to get close and attempt an overtake. And then as soon as he was behind, I think he started struggling with the brakes and that was it for him.

"A pity because we would have had, I think, a very good fight for P1 today. But, you know, I'm happy to take the win. He's had plenty of them."

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