Carlos Sainz makes worrying admission about Ferrari Spanish GP upgrades

Carlos Sainz admitted Ferrari don't know the strength of their upgrades after Mercedes roundly beat them at the 2023 Spansih GP


Carlos Sainz admitted Ferrari are still in the dark over how effective their upgrades for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix were, and added he was surprised at the pace of their main rivals.

Ferrari brought a new floor and majorly redesigned their sidepods for the Spanish GP, a week after Mercedes brought significant upgrades to Monaco including a new floor, sidepods and suspension.

But after starting on the front row in Barcelona, Sainz struggled with tyre management all race while Mercedes looked best of the rest behind Red Bull, picking up a double-podium.

“I think the biggest surprise is how close Mercedes were,” Sainz told the press. “When you look we finished 45 seconds [behind Red Bull], it’s more or less where we finished in Miami, where we finished in recent races.

“It’s just Mercedes suddenly has slotted in between us and Red Bull, probably where Aston should’ve been. So there’s work to do, analysis to be done on this package.

“I trust we’re in the right direction, now we need to start addressing our weaknesses with the bouncing, the high speed. With this new package and new direction hopefully we can start bringing performance.”

Why didn’t Ferrari’s upgrades work at the Spanish GP?

Pole position winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Second placed Carlos Sainz of Ferrari (R) and Third placed Lando Norris of McLaren (L) after 2023 Spanish GP qualifying | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Ferrari arrived in Spain with completely different sidepods – like Mercedes earlier in the season they’ve ditched their unique concept in favour of one more closely aligned with Red Bull.

Whereas Mercedes finally have sidepods, Ferrari’s gorgeous ‘bathtub’ design is no more, replaced with a bulkier concept that steps in and resembles Adrian Newey‘s design on the Red Bull.

But while they also brought a new floor to the race, it was a weekend to forget overall for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc exited qualifying in the first session and started from the pitlane, while Sainz was unable to convert a front-row start into a podium.

Ferrari struggled with tyre degradation in 2022 and that’s intensified into 2023, so while they remain the real deal on Saturdays then a race at one of the highest-deg circuits on the calendar was always going to be a struggle.

After mixing it with Max Verstappen in the first corner, Carlos Sainz slowly fell back into the clutches of Lewis Hamilton, then George Russell and Sergio Perez later in the race. And he was asked by the media post-race whether he had noticed an improvement in his SF-23.

“It’s difficult to tell,” Sainz said. “I know the factory did a tremendous effort to bring them, probably we brought them to our weakest track of the season so we haven’t seen the best of them yet.

“With the bouncing and the high-speed weakness we have then we were never going to be very competitive around here so it’s too early to tell.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

With the F1 circus finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for and in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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