F1

Ferrari ‘not far behind’ Red Bull on pace despite F1 win drought

Red Bull enters this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix looking for its 10th victory in a row after enjoying a dominant run that has left Ferrari without a win since the Austrian Grand Prix on July 10.

Max Verstappen broke the record for the most wins in a single season with his 14th victory of the year at the last race in Mexico, having won the drivers’ title two rounds earlier in Japan.

Although Ferrari have taken five pole positions since Austria, two more than Red Bull, the team has struggled to compete over race distances, particularly with tire degradation.

Sainz acknowledged that Verstappen and Red Bull had been “the fastest pack” this year en route to the championships, and said Ferrari would have to be “perfect” next year to put up a fight.

But he felt the team has “opportunities” for next year as the F1-75’s performance has not been far behind what Red Bull has produced during its dominant run.

“Red Bull has been dominant, but they have been dominant without being clearly ahead on the pace,” said Sainz.

“I don’t feel like we’re that far behind in terms of car development and performance. If you think about it, I got pole in Austin, we went 1-2 in Austin in qualifying, so it must be that our car is actually not that away from Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

“What we need to focus on is trying to understand next year’s tyres, to see how we can be quicker in the race, because it’s clear that Red Bull is particularly quick in the race compared to us.

“In terms of strategy, race execution, tire management, that’s another step we want to take next year and we’re already working on it. But in terms of pure performance, we’re not far off. [off].

“We just need to put a little more power and a little more downforce on the car, and we’re going to be at the same level or quicker. Hopefully we can do that.”

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Sainz took his first F1 victory at the British Grand Prix in July, but struggled to match team-mate Charles Leclerc’s form for the first part of the year, leaving a 63-point gap between the Ferrari drivers with two races remaining this year.

Sainz said he “would need to improve especially in the first half of the season and in the races” ahead of next year, but felt Ferrari had to be ambitious in its goal of overtaking Red Bull.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “You need to set high goals for yourself and your team. You can try to meet them and let’s see what life brings next year.”

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