It seemed impossible for any team to stop the Red Bull juggernaut with their 15-game winning streak. However, Sainz, a former Red Bull Junior Driver, emerged as the unlikely hero to break through this disastrous race.
Sainz’s victory in Singapore last month, his second Grand Prix win, was the culmination of extensive preparation and dedication. Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur hailed Sainz’s new form, saying he had “stepped up” in response to his podium finish at Monza.
When asked about his confidence for the rest of the 2023 season, Sainz said, “I feel very good with the car and I’m driving very well, maybe the best since I’ve been a Ferrari driver and finally unleashed my full potential.”
To understand Ferrari’s recent renaissance, one must go back to the Zandvoort race, where the team did extensive development work to unravel the mysteries of the ‘peak’ SF-23 on high-powered circuits. Both Sainz and Leclerc had expressed concerns about the car’s unpredictability in high-speed corners, hampering their racing performance.
Through a careful compromise between aerodynamic balance and grounding issues, the team achieved an optimal configuration that utilized the SF-23’s strengths. Sainz’s careful approach and collaboration with his engineers played a major role in perfecting his race weekend strategy.
Sainz explained, “Before the summer break, there was already this good feeling and everything. I just sat down with my engineers during the summer break and we said, ‘Okay, what can we do to start putting the whole weekend together?’
Although Ferrari have made great progress, they have yet to consistently compete with Red Bull, as evidenced by their recent performance at Suzuka. Despite concerns about tire damage, Sainz decided to stay out, and eventually lost to Lewis Hamilton due to a narrow track.
Sainz’s rise in form has also put pressure on his team-mate, Charles Leclerc, who has suffered a difficult and erratic start to the season. Leclerc acknowledged Sainz’s exceptional performance, saying, “Carlos in Monza and Singapore has been making the most of it. He has been very strong.”
Leclerc added, “It’s good to have him in such good form because it pushes me to better understand my driving style and adapt to the car. I’m not really comfortable with the car at the moment, (it’s) too much. understeer for my liking.”
Currently trailing Sainz by 15 points in the Drivers’ Championship, Leclerc is aiming to close the gap while Ferrari is struggling to close Mercedes by 20 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
With the tension heating up for Mercedes, the combination of Sainz’s form and Leclerc’s determination to keep up with him could put Ferrari ahead of the Silver Arrows. In addition, Sainz’s resurgence offers an opportunity to establish himself as Ferrari’s number one driver, paving the way for their challenge against Red Bull in 2024.
The upcoming Qatar Grand Prix, scheduled for October 6-8, promises to add even more excitement to the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The Losail International Circuit, just outside Doha, will host the 17th race of the season, where Sainz and Ferrari will aim to continue their impressive form and challenge Red Bull’s dominance.
Read more: McLaren’s clinical approach to improvement pays off in changing Formula 1 season (planetsport.com)