Carlos Sainz says he wants to ‘fight’ Charles Leclerc as he fires Max Verstappen warning

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz slipped to sixth in the Drivers' Championship following his fifth place finish at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix.

2022 has been an unfortunate season for Carlos Sainz, as the Spaniard ultimately slipped below the standards he set himself in 2021.

When Sainz joined Ferrari in 2021, many predicted that he’d play second fiddle to the Scuderia’s golden boy, that is Charles Leclerc; however, the opposite happened last season.

The Spanish driver astonishingly ended the season above Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, giving the 28-year-old an excellent platform to build on for this season.

That seemingly hasn’t happened; in fact, it’s been the complete opposite.

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Sainz has struggled considerably more than his Monegasque team-mate throughout the year, and plain and simply looked uncomfortable in the F1-75 at the start of the season.

Nothing could stop Max Verstappen from repeating his 2021 glory, though, with Sainz having been shocked at the Dutchman’s superiority this season, especially given the fact that Ferrari had the strongest car at the start of the calendar.

“You never expect that, especially when you have a good car at the beginning,” Sainz told Car and Driver.

Momentum has been something difficult to come by for Sainz this year, with either a mechanical or strategic error occurring at the majority of rounds this season.

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In the last three races alone, Sainz has retired twice, once as a result of his own error and once due to someone else’s error.

Whilst he did finish at last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, he ended the race almost a minute behind Verstappen; however, he still finished before Leclerc.

It’s not just Sainz who has work to do ahead of 2023, with Ferrari too, needing to play their part in ironing out their faults.

Should Sainz want to be a World Champion, then consistency will truly be the key, with the Spaniard determined to make 2023 “complicated” for Verstappen.

“I now wish I had felt a little more comfortable at the beginning of the season, to make things a little more complicated for Max and together with Charles to fight a little more,” he said.

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“My goal for next year is to start at the level I am at now, which is quite decent, and to complicate things for Max.

“We have another opportunity and I fully trust that the team will create another great car like this year’s, and we will learn from the mistakes made this year.

“I’m ready to fight and I’m looking forward to fighting Mercedes too, as it looks like they will join us at the front.”