Sainz encouraged by Ferrari ability to challenge McLaren

Carlos Sainz believes the Ferrari‘s ability to match McLaren at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is indicative of the improvements made over the winter.

The Scuderia will arrive at Imola for the first of two home races on this year’s schedule off the back of a promising start to the season, with Sainz finishing eighth, just two places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Whilst Sainz recounted his ease in overtaking the Ferraris as a McLaren driver last year during the Maranello-based team’s slump, the Spaniard used that experience as a yardstick for the improvements made on the SF21.

“It is encouraging because I remember that with that car [last year’s McLaren] I passed Charles fairly easily, how big was the difference between the McLaren and the Ferrari and how close I was to overtaking [Daniel] Ricciardo at the end [in Bahrain],” said Sainz.

“I had much better pace than Daniel there towards the end of the race, I was catching him at more than half a second per lap.

“There are positive signs, encouragement, a big step compared to last year, and now it’s a matter of keep finding the details, keep working hard in Maranello, keep improving.”

Whilst signs of improvement have been shown, Sainz is under no illusion that the introduction of radical new aerodynamic regulations for 2022 will impact Ferrari’s ability to continuously develop across the campaign.

“The car is certainly a very good step,” he added. “Now we want to take the next steps, but this year is going to be more focused on next year.

“But I’m encouraged. I’m happy with what I’ve seen, with my feeling with the car for the first race, and I can see a positive step.”