Carlos Sainz has said he expects McLaren to be a strong rival this season, as he believes they will benefit from switching to Mercedes power from Renault.
The Spaniard left the Woking-based team at the end of last season to join Ferrari – and he is expecting the Scuderia to have a lot of competition this year, though he stressed he isn’t reading into the results of pre-season testing.
“I believe nothing about Mercedes or what I see from the other teams. It’s still too soon,” Sainz said in an interview this week when asked about the Silver Arrows’ difficulties in testing.
“I don’t know when I’m going to be 100 percent with the car, but I think we’ll have to wait for more races.
“More or less, what we’re seeing from the car is what we expected.”
Continuing, Sainz said: “We are happy with what we see and relatively satisfied with the correlation between track and simulator. And now what needs to be seen is where the others are.
“The Red Bull looks good, the McLaren I’m sure it’s going to be there, because the car, just with a smaller engine, that already allows you to improve the aerodynamics of the car and have more power, better and better.
“So McLaren is going to take a step forward. Alpine doesn’t look bad either, and now it is time to wait and see what Ferrari can do.”
The former McLaren driver said it’s difficult for him to estimate Ferrari’s progress as he didn’t drive the SF21’s predecessor, but he said he is encouraged by the fact his team-mate, Charles Leclerc, hasn’t said anything “bad” about their 2021 car.
“I can’t compare it with anything because I don’t know last year’s car and so I don’t really know how much progress has been made,” he said.
“In theory, this year’s cars are going to be slower, they are going to have other characteristics, and therefore, Charles not talking bad about the car is already a positive thing.
“I for my part am focusing more on myself, on trying to learn about the car, the team, trying to adapt, to be comfortable… so I can’t afford to make comparisons yet because I don’t have that experience.
“For me at the moment the car is not at 100% and I’m not at the limit at all, so I don’t think it’s too difficult to drive,” Sainz added.
Ferrari has a woeful 2020 campaign, with them recording their worst finishing position in the Constructors’ Championship since 1980.
They will be running a new engine this year, which they hope will help them close the power deficit they had to Mercedes, Honda and Renault last campaign.