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Sainz: Ferrari with fewer "scares" key to 2024 F1 progress

Carlos Sainz says having a Ferrari that produces “less scares” this year has been key to his impressive start to the Formula 1 season.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Spaniard is the only driver other than Max Verstappen to have won a race in 2024 and is just seven points behind his team-mate Charles Leclerc in the standings despite having missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on medical grounds.

His strong form has made him a key player in the F1 driver market silly season for next year, having been linked with Red Bull and Mercedes, while Audi is known to want him on board.

The way in which he has been better able to deliver results for Ferrari this season has been noticeable and prompted some to suggest that there has been a change of approach or revised driving style.

But reflecting himself on why things are clicking better so far, he says it is all down to the way that Ferrari’s new SF-24 is more benign in its handling than last year’s peaky challenger.

“There is nothing in particular in the car that I like or dislike, apart from a more stable platform that gives you less bad moments across a lap, that gives you less scares,” explained Sainz.

“Last year, during a qualifying lap or during a race, we would have a lot of big moments that we didn’t understand where they were coming from. It was taking away confidence in general.

“This year, since winter testing in Bahrain, you could already see in the three days of testing that we had very little of those moments.”

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, in the Press Conference

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, in the Press Conference

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Sainz explains that having a car that is not so nervous on the edge means that there is increased driver confidence, which in turn means he can push harder.

“The car just seems a more stable platform that allows you to stay closer to the limit more often,” he said.

“And that, in the end, means more confidence, and more confidence means better performance.

“In terms of driving style and all that, it’s a very similar car to last year. We drive it in exactly the same way as last year’s car.”

Despite having learned over the winter that his contract would not be renewed for 2025, with Ferrari having opted to sign Lewis Hamilton, Sainz feels he is delivering at the best he ever has during his four years with the squad.

However, he is not sure if he is enjoying the form of his career to date.

“For sure, it has been my strongest start to a season since I joined Ferrari,” he explained. “This is no secret. Am I at my best? I don’t know. It’s a difficult thing to answer.

“Obviously, it looks like it, because the podiums are coming, and the results are showing. But I have been at my best at McLaren, I have been at my best in Toro Rosso.

“What changes is the car – some years you have a better car than others. Some years you have a better qualifying car or a race car. This year, we have a good compromise between quali and the race it seems.

“Yeah, I’m driving at a very good level I think but I have been in F1 at a good level before, so I don’t know. Honestly, I would need to go through all of my last nine years to think about it.”

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