Carlos Sainz says that Ferrari’s lacklustre start to the 2023 Formula 1 team is one of the toughest moments he’s endured in the sport.
At the season-opening round from Bahrain, Sainz finished in third place while team-mate Charles Leclerc retired with a mechanical issue.
In Jeddah, Sainz and Leclerc drove to sixth and seventh-place finishes, while Melbourne saw it walk away point-less as Leclerc retired on the opening lap while Sainz was penalised for a collision with Fernando Alonso late on.
After the opening three rounds of the 2023 campaign, Ferrari sits fourth in the standings with 26 points – its lowest tally after three races since the new points system was introduced in 2010.
“For sure it’s one of the toughest moments – [I’m] not going to lie,” Sainz said, speaking prior to last Sunday’s race in Australia.
“Since 2021, we’ve been on the way up, since I arrived 2021 was already a good step in the right direction – we went from finishing P6 to finishing P3.
“Then there was the regulation change that allowed us to do a massive step in 2022.”
Ferrari was hopeful that its return to the top step of the podium last year would see its momentum continue and turn into a title charge for 2023.
But so far, Red Bull has been the class of the field and has cruised to the first three race wins of the year.
“This year, we expected at least to find ourselves in a similar position but unfortunately there’s a team named Red Bull that has killed the opposition coming up with a car that is clearly superior to everyone else,” Sainz said.
“If you look at Ferrari, we are there with Mercedes, we are not too far from Aston Martin in race pace, but there’s one team that have nailed it and this puts us a bit on the back foot again.
“But, at least we know, I think we know, where we got it wrong. It’s very clear to us where the weaknesses of our car lie, where the strengths of the Red Bull are.
“And now the whole team is pushing in the same direction, trying to cut that deficit.”