The Spaniard was hoping to make a change this year after a strong first season with Ferrari in 2021, in which he had little trouble adjusting to his new surroundings.
However, Sainz got off to a bit of a bad start in 2022, as he could not feel as comfortable with the F1-75 as his team-mate Charles Leclerc.
That left him a couple of tenths off the Monegasque from the start, as he and his Ferrari engineers set about finding solutions to try to make him feel more comfortable with the car.
Despite numerous set-up experiments, no change gave Sainz the breakthrough he needed, so only a complete rethink of his driving style helped him turn things around.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Sainz says the situation he faced in the first few races was difficult to bear because it was something he had never experienced in his career.
“It was clearly, first of all, frustrating after such a strong first year with the team, where I encountered very few problems with the car,” he said.
“I felt that after the first races of 2021 I knew where the limit of the car was. I just had to find one or two tenths in certain types of corners and I was ready to race. That’s why the second half of the season was so strong and I was able to top it off.”
“This year we finally had a competitive car, finally a single-seater capable of fighting for victories, and suddenly I find myself in a position I’ve never been in before, which is being more than two tenths away.”
“I’ve never been more than two tenths away from a teammate, and I was scratching my head to see where all that lap time was coming from. It was frustrating, because it was the first time I had a competitive car that allowed me to fight for gain”.
Although Sainz was reluctant to explain how he finally stepped up in Canada, before taking his first pole position and victory at the British Grand Prix, he finally opened up about how he had to take responsibility for getting things done. different way.
“I kept it pretty secret where my problems were coming from,” he said. “I think the people who understand the sport, and the people who do in-depth analysis, more or less know me already, and know where the problems were coming from. But to cut a long story short, I had to completely change my driving style.”
“I had to completely change my driving, in a very unnatural way, and make it natural, which takes a long time.
“I also had to test things with the setup. Most of it was in the wrong direction, and then finding a good direction again, and that takes racing. There’s no testing anymore, so you have to test on race weekends.” .
“That means sometimes you have to complete a race weekend with a setup where you’ve basically screwed up. And that meant another weekend of no performance.”
“That built up frustration until I think it was more or less in Canada where I found my way a little bit. And since then, I’ve started to perform a little bit better.”
Although Carlos Sainz did not want to reveal any technical secrets, he said that the problems mainly revolved around the speed of specific corners in which Leclerc was better than him.
“It was a bit everywhere, but it was a certain type of cornering speed and a certain style of driving that I wasn’t doing well with this car,” he said.
“Sometimes it happens in a driver’s career. You get in a car, like I did in 2021, and you don’t do anything: you just drive it, and you’re quick right away.”
“Then sometimes you get into another car, you think you’ve done a good lap time, but then you see it compared to others and it’s not as fast,” explained the Spaniard. “It’s natural, but it frustrated me that that point in my career had to come just when I had a competitive car.
Sainz explained that the need to adapt more to what the car needed, rather than being able to change the setup to suit it, was driven by the scope of the technical limitations of the 2022 regulations.
“The team obviously listened to me and knew where my problems were,” he said. “But in a time of budget limits, and with a car regulation as simple as we have today, they are very simple single-seaters. You have very little freedom to play with the set-up.”
“It wasn’t until very late that we’ve introduced a couple of things that have really helped me get a little more out of the car.”
“Since Barcelona, which was my lowest point in terms of speed in qualifying and in the race, I tried to change my driving and find a car that more or less gave me a little bit of confidence.”
Since he began to feel comfortable with the 2022 Ferrari, Sainz has seen his performance improve, which he hopes will give him the foundation for a much better 2023 season. However, despite some very strong performances, he confesses that he is still not as comfortable as he would like.
“There are little things that suddenly give you confidence and that’s where I started to feel that I can also be quick with this car,” he continued.
“At the beginning of the year, you always have your doubts. Is this car going to give me the confidence that I had from last year? Am I ever going to find the right drive to take this car to the level that I know I can? “.
“But then those little details help you trust the process and trust all the hard work that I had to do, even though there were many times that I was wrong with the direction of the set-up, with my driving.
“It’s still not a car that I like, honestly, in the way of driving it. I still have to think a lot while driving. And I still don’t drive completely naturally. But at least I know that if I put it all together, I can be there.”
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