Sainz needs perfect season
Whereas Sainz finished ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc in the championship in his first year at Ferrari, he struggled to keep pace in 2022. The Spaniard was one of the drivers who struggled with the new generation of F1 cars. They did not seem to suit everyone's driving style.
Having worked hard on his form and driving style throughout the season, Sainz now feels Sainz has found his niche in the new car. "It's been a challenging [year], as you guys have seen from the outside," he said in a conversation with Formula1.com. The early stages of the season in particular were difficult.
"I had to fight through it quite a lot," he indicated. After the first seven races, however, he started to get used to the F1-75, which required him to adapt his natural driving style. "I have been a lot happier with the car. I've been a lot more on the pace, but unfortunately, a lot of DNFs, a lot of reliability issues along the way."
Challenging Red Bull and Verstappen
Moreover, he saw Red Bull Racing and Mercedes perform better in the second half of the season, often making fifth place the maximum possible for him. Sainz sees the 2022 F1 season mainly as an important learning year: "I'm proud of the progress I've done inside the car, with my engineers, the way that we managed to turn my pace around."
His goal for 2023 is to perform consistently again as he did in his first year at the Italian racetrack. "I'll make sure next year we are back to being the consistent Carlos of 2021 and get good results," he continued. Asked if he and Ferrari can pose a challenge to Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, Sainz added that both he and his team need to be "perfect" for that to happen.