Carlos Sainz has expressed concern over the tyre degradation issues that saw Ferrari lose out on the final podium place to Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ferrari had appeared on course to finish third and fourth behind only the dominant Red Bull pairing at the midpoint of the season-opening race.
However, a suspected engine failure for Charles Leclerc and heavily worn rubber on Sainz’s car meant neither Ferrari driver ended up on the podium.
Sainz, who struggled all race long, professed the severe tyre degradation woes that allowed Alonso to overtake him late in the race made for “very concerning” reading.
“I wish that as soon as we go to other tracks where we cook less the rear tyres, we can hold on better,” the Spaniard lamented.
“It’s clear that their car has something, both Red Bull and Aston, that they degrade a lot less.
“If you look at Mercedes and us, we have very similar degradation, and these other two cars, for some reason, they don’t degrade.
“So it’s something that we will have to look, analyse and see what we can do.”
After Leclerc’s retirement, Sainz had looked set to inherit a second consecutive podium finish in Bahrain.
But a rapid pace from Alonso in the Aston Martin on fresher rubber, combined with Sainz’s tyre drop-off, enabled him to swiftly reel the sole remaining Ferrari in.
The two-time champion eventually stole the final podium place away down the back straight between Turns 10 and 11, following a closely fought wheel-to-wheel contest that had started several corners beforehand.
Although Sainz was pleased to sustain an exciting battle with his fellow Spaniard, the Ferrari racer admitted that the dice had left him vulnerable to Lewis Hamilton behind.
“It was [a] nice battle,” Sainz acknowledged after the race. “It unfortunately nearly cost me the position to Lewis also because in our car, as soon as you push a bit to defend from Fernando, you cook the tyres and then it nearly cost me.
“It’s the problem we have that we have too much degradation, the tyres get too hot when we start pushing and it means that we don’t have a lot of margin in the race.”
After establishing itself as a title-contending force at the beginning of 2022, Ferrari’s consistent harder use of the tyres compared to the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes led to it falling out of race-winning contention in the second half of the year.
With its problems resurfacing at the first race of the latest season, Sainz considers it a case of Aston Martin and Red Bull unlocking something rather than Ferrari’s fortunes changing in any way.
“It’s the same. It’s as bad as it was last year,” Sainz eluded to when asked about Ferrari’s tyre management woes.
“It’s just that the other two cars for some reason have found something that means they degrade half, and you can just see, you know, how much Fernando and Max [Verstappen] could push on the tyres and how much we need to save.
“And as soon as we push, we go backwards. So it just doesn’t leave you a lot of margin.”
Ferrari sits fourth in the Constructors’ Championship heading to the second round in Saudi Arabia, already 31 points behind Red Bull.