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Sainz: Ferrari "not far" from Red Bull on pure performance despite win drought

Carlos Sainz believes Ferrari is "not far" from Red Bull in terms of pure performance despite its Formula 1 win drought stretching back more than four months.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing Carlos Sainz, Ferrari at Press Conference

Red Bull enters this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix chasing its 10th consecutive victory after enjoying a dominant run of form that has left Ferrari without a win since the Austrian Grand Prix on 10 July.

Max Verstappen broke the record for the most wins in a single season with his 14th victory of the year at the last race in Mexico, having wrapped up the drivers' title two rounds earlier in Japan.

Although Ferrari has scored five pole positions since Austria - two more than Red Bull - the team has struggled to compete over race distances, particularly struggling with tyre degradation.

Sainz acknowledged Verstappen and Red Bull had been "the faster package" this year en route to the championships, saying Ferrari would have to be "perfect" next year to put up a fight.

But he felt the team has "chances" going into next year as the performance of the F1-75 has not been too far off what Red Bull has produced during its dominant run.

"Red Bull has been dominant, but they've been dominant without being clearly ahead in pace," said Sainz.

"I don't feel like we are so far behind in terms of car development and car performance. If you think about it, I was on pole in Austin, we were 1-2 in Austin in quali, so it must be that our car is actually not that far from the Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

"What we need to focus on is trying to understand next year's tyres, see how we can be quicker in the race, because it's clear the Red Bull is particularly quick in the race compared to us.

"For the strategy, race execution, tyre management, that's another step that we want to take next year and we're already working on it. But in terms of pure performance, we are not far [off].

"We just need to put on a bit more power and a bit more downforce in the car, and we're going to be at the same level or faster. Let's hope that we can do that."

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Sainz scored his maiden F1 victory at the British Grand Prix in July, but struggled to match team-mate Charles Leclerc's form through the early part of the year, leaving a 63-point gap between the Ferrari drivers with two races remaining this year.

Sainz said he would "need to improve especially in the first half of the season and in the races" going into next year, but felt Ferrari had to be ambitious in its goal to leapfrog Red Bull.

"That is the target," he said. "You need to put high targets to yourself and to your team. You can try and accomplish them, and let's see what life brings next year to the table."

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