‘No fundamental issue’ with new Ferrari, insists Sainz

Carlos Sainz insists that a thorough review of the new Ferrari SF-23 has found no fundamental issues with the new car, despite a disappointing start to the season for the Scuderia.

Sainz missed out on the podium in Bahrain while team mate Charles Leclerc retired with a power unit failure. And the pair sliped behind Mercedes in Saudi Arabia where they finished sixth and seventh respectively.

It’s not the start that Ferrari wanted to the new season, having come into 2023 full of optimism after a disappointing second half to last year’s campaign saw them slip far behind chief rivals Red Bull.

But Sainz said that the team’s technical staff had been hard at work since Jeddah analysing the performance of this year’s car, and there were no serious concerns about its potential.

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“Honestly our analysis from the first few races is there is no fundamental issue with the car,” he told the media in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

“It’s just a very peaky car, a very unpredictable car in the race.”

Tyre degradation is one area of particular concern, with Sainz saying that the SF-23 “eats the tyres quite a lot, so it’s just we need to improve our package.”

“We eat the tyres so it doesn’t allow you to push in the race to overtake people or we need to tyre manage a lot,” he elaborated. “This means in the race you are a bit stuck. You cannot play around too much.

“It’s just too peaky,” he reiterated. “We need to find a way to calm it down a bit, which is what also makes the car difficult in the race.

“The good thing is that everyone knows it. We know it in the track, they know it in Maranello and the good thing is that Ferrari has this manpower, this capacity to react.

“We know exactly where our weakness is and hopefully this will improve and allow us a bit more flexibility.

“If we all push in the same direction, I’m convinced this team can turn it around,” he insisted. “Not in a short period of time, but in a medium period of time.”

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Pundits suggest that the car’s performance in the first two races has been down to Ferrari’s decision to focus on matching the Red Bull’s straight line speed advantage by making changes to their car’s aerodynamic profile.

However that’s been at the expense of downforce levels through the corners, meaning it has been struggling in those areas more than last year’s model where it often had the upper-hand over the Red Bull.

Now Sainz is looking forward to the first major package of upgrades to arrive that should help tackle some of these areas of concern.

“[Upgrades should] improve how we are able to race with the car because at the moment we are very limited,” he explained. “We cannot race people too much because the car is difficult in dirty air.

Sainz added that he was “just waiting to see if the upgrades improve the feeling” and admitted that he was missing last year’s car which had seen him claim his first three podiums for Ferrari and a maiden win at Silverstone.

“I miss 2022 because at least we knew I had a car under my belt that was able to win races and pole positions,” he said.

“I’m not struggling with anything in particular on the driving side, it’s that I haven’t put together any good laps yet – any good qualifying laps.

“This year the feeling of the car is a bit better, especially in the races,” he noted. “I haven’t done a good job in quali. The races, I’ve done pretty much what the car can do right now – which is not a lot.”

Ferrari won two out of the first three races last year to lead the constructors championship with 104 points compared to 65 for Mercedes and 55 for Red Bull.

But this year Ferrari have failed to finish on the podium at either Sakhir or Jeddah, and are currently in fourth place in the constructors standings.

In the drivers battle, Sainz is in fourth tied on points with Lewis Hamilton, while Leclerc is only eighth with just six points under his belt going into this weekend’s race at Albert Park.

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