Carlos Sainz says the rounds before the summer break demonstrated there is “something intrinsic that we don’t fully understand” regarding Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 car.
Ferrari’s hopes of challenging for the title this year have been thwarted by a problematic SF-23 car that has proven inconsistent and sensitive to changing conditions.
The Italian outfit currently languish fourth in the Constructors’ Championships, 312 points behind Red Bull and with only three podium finishes to its name so far this year.
Ahead of the season resuming with this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Sainz claims the remainder of Ferrari’s campaign will be spent trying to ensure that the team is more competitive from the outset next year.
“I think the mood is basically trying to understand as much as possible about this year’s car, “ Sainz began.
“We are FP1s, FP2s every weekend trying something different, you know, to try and understand these regulations and to try to see where we may be lacking compared to, obviously, the reference Red Bull and how we can make the 2024 car quicker.
“We’re also spending a lot of time in the simulator, trying different things. Spending more time than ever really on getting the season turned around and putting everything that we can into place to get ourselves in a better place for next year mainly.”
When asked what aspects of Ferrari’s 2023 charger has pleased him and which areas there remain cause for concern, Sainz responded: “Starting with the later one, I think it’s no secret that this year we’ve lacked like some consistency from the car.
“It’s very difficult to predict which circuits we’re going to be quick at and which we’re not going to be quick. I think the best example was the difference between Hungary and Spa. I think when you see our car we expected Hungary to be a good weekend, we expected Spa to be a weaker one, and it was actually the opposite, which just shows that there is maybe something intrinsic that we don’t fully understand and we cannot predict very well.
“And this unpredictability, this lack of understanding, is exactly what we are focusing on to try and piece together everything and this is where our focus is going to be this weekend and obviously in the second half of the season.
“On the good side of things, the car always offers some good opportunities in qualifying to maybe qualify a bit ahead of what the race pace of the car might be, and if you do a good lap in quali maybe you can hold on to a podium place, if you then have a smooth race without too many troubles.
“Yeah, the focus will be getting the car again quick on the race mainly and try to hold on to those good qualifying sessions if we have the opportunity.”
Expanding on its struggles, Sainz explains that Ferrari do understand the primary issue that has hampered its competitiveness from the beginning of the season.
“Yes, the core problem of the car, we do understand what it is and since the first developments of the year we are trying to get it better,” he discussed.
“And the whole development programme has been focused on improving that main weakness that we have. Then there’s many other factors, you know, that we are also trying to figure out.
“But, again, the differences are small. I think, especially when you try to beat Mercedes, when you try and beat McLaren now, Aston Martin, it’s all within a tenth.
“And what we need to focus on in these last 10 races is putting the weekend together and seeing if we can if we can finish on top of that second place in the Constructors that I think is not going to be easy.”
“Again, I don’t know, because if you look at the track, you could say ‘yeah, should be a better one for us’ but then you look at Hungary and it wasn’t, so it is extremely difficult to predict right now for us this year,” Sainz said regarding Ferrari’s prospects at Zandvoort.
“Also, I think the fact that the field is so tight, you know, with Mercedes and now McLaren joining, there is still obviously Aston Martin and obviously Red Bull ahead of us, we are all within a tenth or to tenths of each other every quali and every race and if you know you’re going come out on top of, or behind that battle, it means you can qualify P2, P3 or qualify P8, P9.
“So, the performance swing or let’s say the result for such a small performance swing is huge,” he continued. “So I think it will be tight again this weekend.”