The three-day pre-season testing in 2021 was not an ideal way for drivers who replaced teams during the winter to prepare for a new campaign in a new environment. Carlos Sainz was one of those – and on the eve of his Ferrari debut, Sainz said he could do more than a day and a half in the new Ferrari SF21 to feel really comfortable.
After his move to Ferrari with partner Charles Leclerc for 2021, Sainz enjoyed a mixed pre-season test, appearing awkwardly in the new Ferrari at some points, while still managing the third fastest time in the final evening session.
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But Sainz admitted that, despite Ferrari’s hard work to speed it up over the winter – including testing the 2018 car on the Fioran – he could have used a few more days on the track to feel really prepared.
“Of the options available, I think we did a really good job in the winter to get here as … as prepared as I can be,” Sainz said in Bahrain on Thursday. “I did a lot of simulators, for three days we worked here, we ran smoothly. I wish I had more mileage in the car, I wish the winter testing lasted a little longer than it was, but considering everything, I feel ready to give it a try.
“I think it obviously helps, that I have that experience of changing teams so often,” added Sainz, who will now drive four teams – Toro Rosso, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari – in his seven seasons in the sport. “What I’m obviously sure of is that in the first race you’re never as ready as in the second or third year of car or team experience.
“But at the same time, if the feeling in the car is good and very good in the team, you can still perform at a very high level. It is very difficult to know exactly how long any driver will need [to get comfortable]; there were teams for which I needed one or two races, while for other teams it took longer than that. It’s hard for me to say, and until I do the first few races, I won’t be able to know when I get close to the car border. ”
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Sainz, meanwhile, added that there are some significant differences between the way the Ferrari SF21 and his McLaren MCL35 operate on the track last season – and Sainz added that these differences in cars are one of the aspects he valued most in Formula 1.
At least Sainz has already practiced racing on SF21 in pre-season testing …
“They are very different – it’s amazing,” Sainz said of the characteristics of McLaren 2020 and Ferrari 2021. “I still don’t understand how Formula 1 cars can get to a very similar lap time feeling so different. It’s super interesting because every car has its strengths, weaknesses, things that always surprise you, and you have to adapt to its driving style and outside you try to figure out how to adapt to maximize all the weaknesses and all the benefits that car gives you.
“But what surprises me the most is how different all the cars feel, but how close they are when it comes to qualifying. It’s actually a pretty nice thing from Formula 1 because you don’t have it in all the other categories. “
READ MORE: Sainz “felt at home” in SF21 – but admits it’s a “long process” with the new Ferrari team
Sainz will be coming out in a Ferrari SF21 when Free Practice 1 for the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off on Friday, March 26th.