Carlos Sainz expects the pecking order behind Red Bull to constantly evolve over the remainder of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Whilst Red Bull has remained undefeated at the front, the finishing arrangement behind the reigning champions has continuously changed across the last four races.
Mercedes provided Red Bull’s closest competition in Spain, before Aston Martin then took over that mantle in Canada, with Ferrari and McLaren next to emerge at the Austrian and British Grands Prix respectively.
After two promising outings at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the Red Bull Ring, Ferrari’s competitiveness regressed again around the high-speed Silverstone venue.
However, Sainz argues that he already anticipated the Italian outfit’s British GP struggles in advance and predicts that fluctuations in performance race-to-race will be apparent between all the teams in the close fight behind the dominant Red Bulls.
When asked if Ferrari had understood its issues from the previous race weekend, Sainz said: “Yeah, I do.
“And if you remember, before Silverstone, I was the first one to say, wait for Silverstone because I had the feeling that going back to a proper high-speed track, windy track, I felt like we had done some good steps forward, but still especially in this tight battle for second behind Red Bull and Max the teams are very, very tight and it’s very close between Mercedes, us, Aston Martin, now McLaren, see if Alpine joins or not, but it’s really, really tight,” he explained.
“So one weekend you’re going to be a tenth in front and another weekend you’re going to be a tenth behind and it’s a swing of two tenths, that it could change just the outcome of the whole weekend and you could look like ‘oh, now we’re back in P2, P3, P4’ and then the next weekend you’re P7 and P8 and the result change is massive, but the relative performance that you’ve gained or lost is actually not that much.
“It’s just that the track suits you better or McLaren better or Aston better or Mercedes better,” he continued. “It’s important not to overreact and just know that so far, there’s going to be good weekends, some not-so-good weekends.”
Despite Ferrari enduring a subpar Sunday afternoon at Silverstone, Sainz says the entire Ferrari squad is hopeful that the slower-speed Hungaroring should favour its SF-23 car more favourably this weekend.
“I think we are all a bit hopeful that Hungaroring should suit us a bit more,” he admitted. “But again, it will depend.
“Unfortunately, with our car, it depends a lot on the track temperature. It depends a lot on the wind situation.
“We know we have certain weaknesses that make us vulnerable and make us sensitive to these kinds of things but if conditions are good for our car, I think we should be relatively strong around here.”
During a rain-interrupted FP1 hour on Friday, Sainz caused one of two red flags seen in the session when he beached his Ferrari on a kerb on the exit of Turn 3.
Although he was able to continue, Sainz didn’t venture back out onto the circuit. Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc ended up seventh.