Carlos Sainz says the experience gained from his switch from Renault to McLaren provided valuable lessons in realising the work he’d need to put in when he moved across to Ferrari for 2021.
Sainz joined Ferrari for this season on a multi-year deal and scored his first podium for the team in Monaco.
He currently holds seventh in the championship, on 42 points, just 10 points behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari is Sainz’s fourth employer in Formula 1 since his promotion to the championship with Toro Rosso in 2015.
He moved to Renault, effectively on loan from parent company Red Bull, for the last four events of 2017, where he remained in 2018, prior to spending two years at McLaren.
Sainz cited those previous career moves as vital in understanding the volume of work required when linking up with Ferrari.
“At first when I changed from Toro Rosso to Renault, I thought ‘well okay these two cars are completely different, but maybe this is maybe a one-off’,” he explained.
“But then changing from Renault to McLaren it was then completely different again and then McLaren to Ferrari was completely different again.
“It kept opening up my eyes a bit how different everything is from those four different teams and how much you need to adapt in that way.
“I guess I have some practice with it being in four different teams in five or six different years, obviously, has given me that awareness, but I would say it’s more down to a detail.
“When I arrived to Renault, that first race in Austin I was in the pace, straightaway. But I felt like I lacked the last two tenths from the toys, the diff maps, the engine braking and the last bit of driving style to extract the last two tenths.
“The same applied to McLaren and probably same applies to Ferrari.
“All the set-up options that you have in the car, how to use them, how to exploit them depending on the track, and that I’m talking a lot more about the mechanical and the aero, you just don’t know what is going to suit each track.
“You probably need years of experience with that car to know that one goes in one direction or the other depending on the circuit.”
Sainz added that current Formula 1 cars are “so complex and have so many things you can actually do as a driver inside the cockpit”, heightening the need to understand the nuances of each package.
“You need to put the time, the dedication to it,” he said. “But at the same time if you don’t have the capacity as a driver also to adapt, it’s impossible.
“I’m still having to change the style, the driving, and having that open mind, that probably what I did in the McLaren is not going to work in the Ferrari, and I need to change a couple of techniques on my driving side and I’m having to do that.
“And probably there’s quite a lot of private things that I cannot talk about too much.”