Carlos Sainz admits he is relishing the prospect of battling Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Aston Martin were the surprise package of testing this year, with many tipping them to be in the hunt for a podium at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which could lead to a mouth-watering all-Spanish clash between Sainz and his idol Alonso.
Asked if he expected the iconic British team to contend this weekend, Sainz said: “Yes, we do, mainly because it’s already been since December that everyone here’s the rumours that Aston Martin was going to be quick this year.
“We all know the numbers were very good in wind tunnel in the simulator. They were I think struggling to hide the the excitement of what they were seeing. So when we arrived in Bahrain it confirmed that they are in the mix with us.
“And I think it’s great news for Formula 1. Great news for Fernando and excited to have one more team in the battle this year.”
Sainz happy with car but unsure of pecking order
Ferrari went a little under the radar at testing, although they are expected to reassert themselves as the second-quickest team behind Red Bull.
Encouragingly, Sainz is happy with everything the car is doing on track but admitted they won’t know their true standing until battle recommences at qualifying for the Bahrain GP.
“We learn that the car is doing what we expected it to do,” Sainz added. “From the wind tunnel on our simulator simulations, the car is behaving as we expected.
“Now will it be enough to win races and be where we want to be? Only time will tell.
“What we don’t know is the last two or three tests. In Formula 1, the last two or three tenths are the most important, because two or three tenths is a big, big number in this world.
“I have no idea where we will fall in his last two or three tenths with Red Bull and the Aston Martin and the Mercedes.
“I think it’s impossible to know but it’s no secret that they look like the strongest ones and the Red Bull is probably leading the way.”