Carlos Sainz admits ‘mixed feelings’ at Ferrari but praises Mattia Binotto

Carlos Sainz claimed the first victory of his Formula 1 career at the British Grand Prix this season.

2022 certainly hasn’t been the season Carlos Sainz would’ve expected, especially after the Spaniard exceeded expectations during his first year at Ferrari in 2021.

Despite potentially being considered as a second driver for the Maranello-based team, Sainz managed to finish above team-mate Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship last season, something which gave the 28-year-old an excellent foundation to build on this campaign.

Alas, 2022 just hasn’t clicked for him, with reliability errors, strategic embarrassments, and driver errors having played pivotal.

It also can’t be forgotten that Sainz has simply endured some torrid luck at certain races this year, after being forced to retire from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo, and then having to do the same at the Circuit of the Americas due to being punted by George Russell.

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With the Spaniard facing a sixth-place finish in the standings, behind both Red Bull’s, both Mercedes’ and his team-mate, perhaps his future at Ferrari will be a talking point over the winter.

He is contracted until the end of 2024; however, given Ferrari’s tactical madness, who knows what the Scuderia’s hierarchy are capable of.

Sainz has admitted that he’s found the new regulations “extremely challenging”, with the driver having no choice but to “reinvent” himself as a result of his driving style not suiting the aerodynamic changes.

“It has been an extremely challenging season for me,” the Spaniard said, as quoted by BBC Sport

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“I found a lot of setbacks at the beginning of the year with this new car, with the new regulations, that didn’t adapt to my driving style.

“I had to reinvent myself in many ways to try and find the pace.

“I didn’t give up. I kept pushing even in the difficult moments, and you can see it paying off now at the end of the season in terms of speed.”

Overall, it can’t be forgotten where Ferrari have comeback from, after spending the last few years battling for ‘best of the rest’, not the Constructors’ Championship.

Whilst both titles did slip away dramatically through their own errors, it is certainly a monumental step in the right direction towards where Ferrari should be, the top.

The Ferrari camp does possess “mixed feelings” about a year the team might regard as a missed opportunity; however, Sainz explained that the team are “super-proud” of how far they’ve come and that they are targeting “another step” in 2023.

“There are definitely some mixed feelings in the team,” Sainz said.

“We are super-proud of the progress we have done with the car to get back to where we are. But this has also been a year of realisation that there are still areas to work on and improve.

“We are being super-disciplined and super-coherent and ultra-critical behind closed doors as to which areas we need to improve to match our competitors in certain areas, or be better than them, which has to be the target.

“The team is taking note of everything and we are going to try and take another step next year. Will it be enough? I don’t know. But it’s definitely a target.”

Sainz was also quick to applaud team principal Mattia Binotto, who has come under relentless fire this season, to either leave the team or change some of the side’s personnel.

Had it not been for countless strategic errors, then Ferrari would have considerably more than four wins to celebrate this season.

Each error that has occurred has resulted in a barrage of criticism directed at Binotto and the strategists; however, the Italian has insisted all year that there is no need to change.

The British Grand Prix winner believes Binotto has done an “excellent job” in 2022 to endure a “lot of difficult moments”, with the team determined to “stay united”.

“It’s incredibly difficult to execute and especially in a team like Ferrari, where there is so much pressure and so much attention on us, and everyone wants changes immediately as soon as something is wrong,” Sainz added.

“Mattia has done an excellent job at not losing the cool head at any point. We have had a lot of difficult moments, a lot of criticism, and he has remained stuck to his principles.

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“No-one has been fired. We stayed united in the most difficult moments and it shows the progress of our culture.

“It is always exposed to criticism and high attention on all our mistakes. When we win, it’s incredible – it is the best win in the world to win for Ferrari.

“To go through such a difficult season as we did with so few problems in the team is something to be valued.”