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Sainz “wasn’t ready” to fight for 2022 title after ‘abandoning’ McLaren consistency

Carlos Sainz has conceded that he “wasn’t ready” to fight for the Formula 1 championship in 2022 after he “abandoned” the consistency he displayed at McLaren and initially at Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari with Driver's Eye camera

The Spaniard switched to Ferrari for 2021, as it struggled to eliminate its excessive aerodynamic drag given the freeze in the regulations and only two permitted development tokens.

Nevertheless, he finished fifth in the drivers’ championship to rank two places ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc and with four podiums compared to the Monegasque’s one.

But Leclerc streaked ahead in 2022 for the return of ground-effects to F1, as Sainz was notably dogged in the first half of the season by the agile F1-75’s twitchy rear axle.

As Leclerc proved to be eventual champion Max Verstappen’s closest rival with three wins and second in the points, Sainz topped the podium just once on his way to another fifth.

Reflecting on his difficult second year at the Scuderia, Sainz now concedes that he was not ready to fight for the title.

Speaking at the launch of the SF-23 on Tuesday, he said: “Being honest, probably with last year's car, I wasn't ready.

"If the championship would have been driven maybe with the 2021 car, I would have been ready.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

"I proved to be for my first year with Ferrari. But with last year I found myself in that position. It happens.

"It's a long career of an F1 driver. There's always going to be cars that are made for you and you jump in and, without even pushing, you perform an exceptional lap time.

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"There's other cars that you push, you try, and it feels like you lack that little bit that maybe I was lacking last year."

Sainz added that he had needed to adjust to fighting at the front of the field again like in his junior single-seater career, after climbing the F1 grid with stints at midfield teams Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren.

He continued: “It is true that I also learned a lot last year fighting at the front.

"It Is different to fighting at the midfield. The level of pushing is different, the level of management, how to win a race, how to make a pole position, are things that I hadn't been doing for nine years, eight years since my World Series days.

"It's probably an experience that will do me well for this year, I think."

Sainz also reckoned the nervous F1-75 had forced him to ‘abandon’ the consistent driving style he enjoyed during his two seasons at McLaren and then in 2021 at Ferrari.

Discussing areas where he needs to improve, Sainz said: “There's consistency last year that used to be one of my strongest assets as a driver.

"Whatever the reason was, I don't carry the car feeling or comfort.

"I abandoned a bit that consistency that made me so strong in my McLaren years and in my first year with Ferrari."

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