Carlos Sainz paid tribute to Ferrari‘s engineers but gave a conservative estimate for the success of their 2023 Austrian Grand Prix upgrade package as they chase their second podium of the season.
12 months on from Ferrari‘s last win, when Charles Leclerc took victory at the Red Bull Ring, the team sits fourth in the constructors’ championship but are enjoying an improvement in form after upgrades from the Spanish GP.
Ferrari ditched their beautiful ‘bathtub’ sidepods concept in favour of a design closer to Red Bull‘s, and showed their best race pace of the season in Canada.
“Another step in the right direction is definitely the target, the team back in Maranello has done an incredible effort to bring them forward to this race,” Sainz told the media. “I cannot thank enough the people back Maranello with the extra hours that everyone’s putting in to make these parts arrive.
“We’re gonna do our best to make them work well, and hopefully we can be competitive this weekend.”
After a desperately disappointing start to the season that saw Ferrari fall from 2022 title challengers to scrapping for fifth on most weekends, it’s been clear their tyre degradation troubles from the previous season have worsened.
They’ve still looked competitive in qualifying though, which made their Saturday performance at the 2023 Canadian GP even more disappointing.
In the wet, a tyre mishap for Leclerc meant he bowed out in Q2 while Sainz was dropped from third to eighth for a grid penalty after impeding several runners in an earlier session.
But it was all change in the race, as the Ferraris stubbornly kept Sergio Perez behind them and went on to record their second-best result of the season.
Can Ferrari catch Red Bull?
However, Sainz wasn’t optimistic for Ferrari‘s chances against Red Bull despite bringing more upgrades to Austria following the success of their Barcelona package.
“There’s a big gap between Red Bull and us. And to think we’re going to cut the gap would be nice, and not realistic,” Sainz said. “Is the upgrade going to help our weaknesses and hopefully make us come closer?
“Yes, but at the same time if Red Bull brings an upgrade to Austria or anytime soon it also means that your upgrade is less big no so it’s all relative in F1.
“I do hope that this upgrade is opening a window of development and new opportunities and new ways to set up the car to help us move in the right direction but I think it would be a bit optimistic to think that we’re going to be level with Red Bull.”