Carlos Sainz aiming to take fight to Verstappen and Red Bull

Max Verstappen starts ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in Austria


Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has set his sights firmly on challenging Max Verstappen for victory in Sunday’s 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

After four fifth-place finishes in the last five Grand Prix, Sainz regained his speed in Austria despite brake-by-wire issues during Qualifying, before finishing a distant third in the sprint behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“Never say never,” said Sainz, when asked if he could challenge Verstappen for victory in Sunday’s race. “But you know how tricky it will be. We are in a good position, though, with two cars behind him and ready to attack.

“Very happy to be P3 today, after the day started with a brake-by-wire issue in Q1, [I] only managed to the one lap. 

“To progress the way we did through qualifying and put ourselves today in P3 is [the] maximum. So very happy with this Saturday.”

Crucial to get past Hulkenberg

After Verstappen made a late lunge on Perez into Turn 3 during the Sprint, Nico Hulkenberg suddenly found himself in second place, holding his own in the mixed conditions.

But Perez proved too strong, and he sailed past his former Force India teammate back into second on Lap 12, with Sainz following suit a lap later.

“I think I passed him on the first lap that I could,” said Sainz. Nico was very quick at the beginning, then I guess he degraded the tires a bit more than us. 

“But around the time I passed Nico, I had my tires in the best operating window and quite a bit of pace.

Checo was just a bit too far [ahead], and we couldn’t catch up, but in general [it] was a solid race. It was very easy to put a foot wrong out there today.”

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull battle for track position at the start of 2023 Austrian GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

At ease with the car at last

Although he holds an eight-point cushion over teammate Charles Leclerc in the driver standings, Sainz has sometimes struggled to gel with the Ferrari.  

In Baku, Sainz struggled with a lack of confidence, and in Montreal, a shunt during FP3 put him on the back foot for qualifying in Canada.

Then coming into the Austrian GP, despite limited time to warm up his tyres, and only one run before the chequered flag, Sainz produced an excellent lap to advance into the second part of the Sprint Shootout, before eventually placing fifth.

“Yes, I’ve been very comfortable, especially today, since the first lap of qualifying [which] was my only lap of qualifying,” explained Sainz. “I looked very quick and very at ease with the car.

“Hopefully, tomorrow in the dry has confirmed a bit of a step [and] we can be stronger in the whole race.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
- Advertisment -


Max Verstappen in the F1 paddock ahead of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Chris Graythen / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Mercedes chairman flirts with Max Verstappen: He’d look good in silver

One of the most important figures within Mercedes AMG, Ola Kallenius, has declared Max Verstappen “would look good in...
Carlos Sainz during practice for the 2024 Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Carlos Sainz hits out at Lewis Hamilton over unpunished Spanish GP move

Carlos Sainz believes Lewis Hamilton should've been given a penalty for his overtaking move that forced the Ferrari driver...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Spanish GP Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen warning to Red Bull and demands improvement

Max Verstappen demands Red Bull improvement as another tough race saw the reigning world champion have to really work...
Start of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

LIVE F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2024 – Reaction as McLaren mistakes costly as Verstappen...

Welcome to Total-Motorsport’s F1 live coverage of the Spanish GP 2024. Held at the iconic Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, today’s race...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Spanish GP weekend | Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton brushes off furious Sainz after Spanish GP incident

Lewis Hamilton risked angering Carlos Sainz after claiming the Ferrari driver "left the door open" to overtake him during...
Lando Norris of McLaren after the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Lando Norris: McLaren easily had the best car at Spanish GP

Lando Norris believes Spanish GP victory should have been his as McLaren had the best car in Barcelona, but...
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner warns of Norris danger to Verstappen after Spanish GP battle

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warned that Lando Norris and McLaren are their strongest competitors following a nail-biting...
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella at the 2023 Belgian GP | McLaren F1 team

McLaren chief pinpoints where 2024 Spanish GP was lost

McLaren's team boss they lost the 2024 Spanish GP by Turn 1 as a poor start saw Lando Norris...
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2024 Spanish GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Standings after 2024 Spanish Grand Prix

Max Verstappen showcased his racing prowess at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, clinching his seventh victory of the Formula...
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

F1 Fastest Lap: Spanish GP 2024

The Spanish GP Fastest Lap award is given to the driver who posts the quickest time over one timed...
- Advertisment -