Carlos Sainz reminded Ferrari and their legion of Italian fans to stay focussed and realistic on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second in the Formula One season.
The Spaniard, who came home second behind Charles Leclerc in Sunday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari claimed their first one-two since 2019, warned that it will not be as straightforward or easy to win again.
“Even if we got both cars to the top of the podium positions in the opening race, we have to remember that we can’t rule out anyone else from this season’s fight,” he said.
“So, we need to stay focused and try to develop our car correctly. Mercedes and Red Bull will improve rapidly – but we expect that.”
Sainz, 27, joined Ferrari on a two-year contract from the 2021 season, replacing Sebastian Vettel, after two seasons with McLaren.
“For me, it is the first time, or it seems it might be, that I may have a title-winning car to count on, so I think I will try to get into this fight and have some fun. I will try to enjoy it this year,” said Sainz.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto was impressed by his team’s performance in Bahrain but expects it will be another three or four races before it is clear which teams were in the title scrap.
Red Bull were strong challengers in Bahrain, with world champion Max Verstappen running second close behind Leclerc until he was forced into retirement by fuel problems. His team-mate Sergio Perez missed out on a podium finish with the same issue. Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes.
Sainz added, in an interview with Spanish radio, that he and Leclerc would be free to race without team orders for the time being.
“If one of us stands out and gains a lead in the standings, the other will help in the championship,” he said.
“That happens in all teams. What matters is taking part in the battle. The ideal situation would be to compete for the title between us without having the pressure of other teams – and really I would like to be at the top!”