Carlos Sainz, the only driver this year to break Red Bull’s dominance. Ready for the Qatar Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen can secure his third title on Saturday, needing just 3 points in the Sprint Race. Ahead of the Lusail weekend, the Spaniard was interviewed by Italian journalist Daniele Sparisci for corriere.it. Here is his full interview:
One win, two poles: do you consider this your best season in terms of driving, either with Ferrari or throughout your career?
“No, I had already driven like this with McLaren. But in my third year with Ferrari, I can express myself at the level I wanted.”
Now that you’ve won, do you feel more relaxed? What changes in a driver’s mindset?
“Victory helps, but even before Monza and Singapore, I had confidence. Results, however, bring enthusiasm and tranquility.”
With a clear mind: was the victory at Silverstone in 2022 or the recent one more beautiful?
“Silverstone was more emotional because it fulfilled a dream. My first F1 win, with Ferrari. In Singapore, the joy of beating Red Bull for the first time prevailed. It was the best weekend of my career.”
When did you figure out how to get something from this car, what happened after the summer?
“It’s actually a progressive work that started in the winter tests in Bahrain. I wasn’t comfortable at all. And I was coming from a complicated 2022. Discovering a car even more challenging than the previous one was a nasty surprise, but it also motivated me.”
What was the motivation?
“To react, to adapt my driving style. Because I didn’t want to repeat another year like 2022. I’ve never liked driving this 2023 car, but at least we found a way to make it faster and more consistent. It’s a shame that the results of the work came late, at the end of August.”
What kind of leader is Fred Vasseur? Differences from other team principals you’ve worked with?
“No comparisons. You can tell that Fred has been in motorsport for many years, he is prepared and brings a different perspective. Ideal for Ferrari: everything he has done so far has been in the right direction. He knows how to be calm but also tough. He’s a leader.”
“Yes, when needed. And also rational when he needs to understand. He manages the team’s different moments well.”
Future. Do you want to stay at Ferrari after 2024?
“Yes, I always say that. I feel at home here, and I’m very appreciated. I believe in the project and am optimistic about the future. Discussions will start in the winter to see if we can reach an agreement.”
Why are you optimistic?
“Firstly, being a Ferrari driver is a dream. Then I want to win, and the biggest opportunities are here. I see a team capable of catching up with Red Bull. We were the only ones in 2022 to fight against them, and this year we were the only ones to beat them. Maranello is the best place to stay. Next year will be a great test.”
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
A big golf enthusiast. Europe surprisingly defeated the USA in the Ryder Cup. How much can Ferrari 2024 surprise?
“It would be great to surprise like the Team Europe did. But playing at home helps. It’s a bit like Ferrari in Monza: you manage to find an extra tenth out of nowhere, as happened to me this year.”
What do you love about golf?
“Spending 3-4 hours outdoors, disconnected from phones and social media. It’s a competitive sport in which you actually compete against yourself. It’s a discipline that brings together people of different ages: I can play with my 60-year-old dad, and we are at the same level.”
Who wins between you two?
“Sometimes me, sometimes him. There’s always balance.”
Speaking of competition: the rivalry between you and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari is intense. But in Mercedes, Hamilton and Russell duel, as do Norris and Piastri in McLaren. Does rivalry help a team grow?
“Yes, now in all teams, there is competition between the two drivers. Only when talking about Ferrari do people make discussions about number one and number two. That exaggerates the rivalry. But if there is an advantage for Ferrari today, it is having two drivers who work perfectly together, who always respect each other even when they are very close. Separated by a tenth in qualifying, attacking in the starts and then in the race. Never had a problem with Charles.”
“Zero. And yet, people always try to find something, and I don’t understand why, while others have real problems.”
Same car, same opportunities?
“Always, every year and every race.”
Have you ever felt treated as the second driver? In some radio communications, you seemed to complain.
“Never. And if you occasionally hear some dialogue on the radio, it’s only to help Ferrari. The priority is to stay ahead of the opponents, not to be number one or two.”
In Spain, they were waiting for the “trenta y tres” (the 33rd win of Alonso). It didn’t come; Carlos arrived first. A satisfying feeling?
“Without Fernando, I wouldn’t have become a driver because I wouldn’t have followed F1 as a child. I understand my country’s emphasis on the 33; at the beginning of the year, it was much more likely that he would win than I would. But when the opportunity presented itself, they cheered for me…”
Can Red Bull recover before the rule change in 2026?
“Yes. Although it won’t be easy; they have an advantage of almost a year and a half because they figured out the direction to take while others are still looking for it. But with limited developments, budget caps, there are many opportunities to catch them. And I trust Ferrari.”
Debut in F1 alongside Verstappen, in 2015 with Toro Rosso. Could you already see that Max had something special?
“From the first test we did together. He’s the most complete; others are good too. But I’d like to see him under more pressure to see if he makes mistakes like he did in Singapore. We have to make it happen more often.”
Do you think about the World Championship?
“Yes, my number one goal is to help Ferrari win it. If I win it myself, even better…”