Carlos Sainz has admitted that Red Bull’s dominance from the get-go in 2023 left him “disappointed and surprised”, as he expected to be closer to Max Verstappen in particular.
Ferrari failed to build on from their impressive 2022 campaign, where they were the only side able to consistently challenge Red Bull.
Unfortunately, the Maranello-based outfit found themselves well off the pace at the start of the season, which made Sainz have to learn to simply maximise any opportunities which came his way.
The Spaniard was forced to accept this year that fighting for fifth at certain venues was the most he’d be able to achieve, because of how inconsistent the SF-23 was.
Ferrari’s first half of 2023 was particularly challenging, as they tended to struggle to look after their tyres.
However, things did improve in the latter stages of the campaign, with Sainz having claimed victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.
In fact, the 29-year-old was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race this year, highlighting Red Bull’s superiority.
Ferrari were actually unfortunate to miss out on second in the Constructors’ Championship, as they ended the season just three points behind Mercedes.
As for Sainz, he ended his third season with Ferrari down in seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, but he insists that he “got the most out of the car” throughout 2023.
Reflecting on the mixed season, Sainz admits that due to the car’s pace having varied so much, it was simply about being “consistent” and making as few mistakes as possible.
“I think the first part of the year was difficult because we all expected more, including me,” Sainz said, via Motorsport-Total. “I was a little disappointed and surprised at the gap to Red Bull on some tracks and the way we couldn’t really fight for the goals we had set ourselves.
“In the second half, it was clear to me and the team that it was about making the most of our opportunities and recognising the fact that there would be races in which we would fight for pole position and, perhaps, victory.
“But there will also be other tracks where we have to settle for P5, P6 or P7 because we are almost a second off the race pace. Acknowledging that and adjusting to it changed my mindset and I realised that every weekend would be a little different.
“It was just about being consistent, getting points for the team and making the most of what we have. And in the second half, there were very few mistakes. I think I got the most out of the car, [I] extracted what was available to us.”