Carlos Sainz has experienced a turbulent 2022, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
The Spanish driver, who joined Ferrari from McLaren for the 2021 season won his first race in Silverstone this year, where he also took his maiden pole position, but this achievement has been somewhat watered down by the fact that Sainz has been forced to retire from a staggering six races so far.
The 28-year-old has had wretched luck at times, experiencing multiple mechanical failures and being taken out of a race by another driver in both Imola and Austin, as opposed to the retirements being due to an error of his own.
When the Ferrari driver is able to stay out on track he has looked better and better each time, finally beginning to match or even better the pace of Charles Leclerc on a regular basis.
Sainz has explained that it took him time to reach Leclerc’s level due to the adaptation period that comes with joining a top team.
“I always feel like I am quick in any kind of car, and for the first time in my career I found myself with a very competitive car but one I didn’t feel comfortable and natural with,” he explained.
“I had to challenge myself and open up new roads of set-up and driving style that I wish I didn’t have to open, because I wish everything had come a lot more natural and positively.”
The gap between the Ferrari driver pairing in the previous two races averaged out at 0.013 seconds, which pleases Sainz as it shows that he can perform at the title challenging level that his Monegasque teammate does so often.
“It’s a statistic that makes me proud about the progress- not giving up, not letting myself get comfortable with being 0.2 seconds behind, and always challenging myself to find new ways of driving cars, which is not easy,” he said.
“When you see other drivers on the grid, you can see it is difficult to turn around a season, or turn around the feeling with the car. You don’t see it very often. The fact I managed to do that makes me happy.”
Sainz’s newfound ability to consistently battle his teammate comes as a blessing and a curse for Ferrari, who may now have to find a way to handle a title battle within the team, which famously proved difficult with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.