Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz notes that his team have taken significant strides forward with their power unit this season, but suggested that Red Bull’s Honda engine could still be ahead.
Ferrari managed a one-two finish at the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc led Sainz home, but Max Verstappen might have split the Ferrari cars had it not been for a late reliability issue that also affected his team-mate Sergio Perez.
It was widely reported before the start of the season that Ferrari had worked together with Shell to overcome the 20-horsepower deficit that came with the new E10 fuel mix, and the Spaniard reveals that this was a focal point for the Scuderia as they entered the new regulations.
“It is one of the things that we are looking into, mainly because we know that part of our deficit to Red Bull that we had is exactly where you mentioned,” Sainz told Autosport.
“We are analysing drag levels, and things that we can do to see if we can be stronger in that part of the circuit.
“It just shows that we’ve done a good step in the engine and all that, but the others are still very competitive. They have also very strong power units and drag levels, so it’s going to be a tough competition.”
The 27-year-old joked in the press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that Honda have the “most reliable” power unit this season after Verstappen jibed that Ferrari had the slowest car, and he is confident that reliability is not a point of particular concern for the Maranello squad for the time being.
“It’s not superior, but it’s a good engine. Red Bull had more top speed than us, and nobody talks about the Honda engine,” he added.
“It seems that suddenly Ferrari is top, but Red Bull had 5km/h more. We have to talk about others, not just Ferrari. For the moment we can be more relaxed about reliability.”
Former Formula 1 driver Marc Surer recently told Formula1News.co.uk that he envisages that the Mercedes engine can claw back its deficit to Honda and Ferrari due to the more powerful nature of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit compared to Bahrain, and Sainz declared his awareness that the outlook will fluctuate at distinct circuits.
“We are definitely on it. We are looking at it, obviously, but I think it can change from track to track,” he explained.
“Seeing what they [Red Bull] have shown in the straight lines in Bahrain, it could be that they might be even stronger on this kind of track. So we need to keep pushing at this.”
Recent reports have suggested that Ferrari have more power at their disposal should they decide they need it but, having topped both practice sessions in Jeddah on Friday, they look good for another competitive weekend in Saudi Arabia.