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Formula 1

Ferrari: Sainz needs to adapt to having frontrunning F1 car

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto thinks Carlos Sainz needs to get used to having a frontrunning car for the first time in his Formula 1 career but has backed him to manage that pressure.

Sainz started the 2022 season in good form with two podiums in the first two races, although he lacked the ultimate pace of team-mate and championship leader Charles Leclerc.

There has been a notable upturn in pace from Sainz at the last two races in Australia and this weekend at Imola, where he has looked more of a match for Leclerc.

But a nightmare set of circumstances derailed his bid for pole in Melbourne, before Sainz spun out of the grand prix on the second lap, and on Friday Sainz crashed out in the second part of Imola qualifying.

Team principal Binotto does not think Sainz has a fundamental problem with Ferrari’s 2022 car but reckons he needs to adjust to the pressure of competing at the front.

“I don’t think that there are issues,” said Binotto.

“Certainly he needs to adapt, I think that he has done a couple of mistakes, which are important. But nevertheless, I think that he is improving himself, he is going faster and faster.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Qualifying Day Imola, Italy

“And if I look yesterday, when he was driving, he was driving fast.

“It’s a shame because when he went off, I think it was not the right time to push to the limit. He knows very well.

“I think that’s a matter of managing the pressure. It is maybe the first time in his career that he’s got a car which is fast enough to compete for the best positions, and he simply needs to get used to that.

“But he will do it very quickly, because I know how smart and how capable he is to manage the pressure.”

Sainz was confused by the Imola qualifying crash as he was adamant he did not feel he had pushed that much in tricky conditions and was only trying to get in a good enough laptime to progress to Q3.

But he had admitted ahead of the Imola weekend that he needed to regain his “calmness” in key moments after reacting badly to the difficult circumstances of the Australian GP.

There, an ill-timed red flag ruined his first run in Q3 and then a starter problem meant he was late out for the second runs so did not get two flying laps as planned.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Australian Grand Prix Race Day Melbourne, Australia

Ahead of the grand prix Ferrari had to make a last-minute steering wheel change because of a problem, which Sainz said caused the terrible start that dropped him into the pack and – by his own admission – led to him driving too recklessly trying to make up lost ground.

That was an unusual blip from Sainz in a race as while he had some crashes last year trying to match Leclerc in practice and qualifying he was a reliable performer in grands prix and scored Ferrari’s biggest results of the season.

Similar performances at McLaren had earned Sainz his Ferrari move in the first place and last year’s effort, particularly relative to Leclerc, made a new contract seem inevitable.

That was actually announced in the build-up to the Imola event, with Sainz confirmed to the end of 2024 at the earliest, which Binotto said was to give the team stability.

“We are very happy with him, the way that he has integrated into the team, the way that he’s performing,” said Binotto.

“And I think simply that he is matching the expectations.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Qualifying Day Imola, Italy

“It was the right moment to look ahead. I think that by renewing and extending it’s giving the right stability to the team as well.

“We know that our drivers are confirmed to the end of 2024. And we can build on it.

“I think as Ferrari our main objective is to try to create the foundations for the future.

“And together with that line-up, I think it’s the best we can do.”

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