Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz refuses to throw towel in at early stage of F1 season

Carlos Sainz is refusing to throw in the towel at such an early stage of the Formula One season – insisting he has “nothing to lose” in his last year at Ferrari.

After Max Verstappen led home a dominant Red Bull one-two in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the Dutchman was uncatchable this year.

Having clinched the previous three drivers’ titles, Verstappen is once again the overwhelming favourite to claim the crown.

He has won three of the opening four races, with a brake failure causing him to retire early on at the Australian Grand Prix last month – where Sainz went on to take the chequered flag.

The Spaniard was back in action after missing the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix with appendicitis and, having finished third behind the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez at Suzuka, he was not ready to cede the fight.

In what will be the longest season in F1 history – there are still 20 races left with four having been run – Sainz is hopeful Ferrari can improve across the course of the year, although he also doubted if that would be enough to haul in Verstappen.

“I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently,” he said.

“It is a shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship. We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, we’re going to give it our best shot.

“It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so yeah, nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.”

Sainz has lost his seat to Lewis Hamilton from next year, the seven-time world champion moving across to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025 onwards.

Lewis Hamilton endured a tough afternoon at the Japanese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton endured a tough afternoon at the Japanese Grand Prix (Hiro Komae/AP)

The 39-year-old has amassed just 10 points so far – his worst-ever tally after the opening four races of a season.

Wolff labelled Hamilton’s first run on the hard tyres in Japan as “atrocious” and the Brit himself was bullish when asked if he could have improved on his ninth-placed finish.

“I don’t know what the different strategy would have been, whether if we stayed on the mediums to start with, but we still had two really terrible hard tyres to run through,” he said.

“It was a real challenge, I think I picked up a bit of damage at the beginning with Charles (Leclerc) when he came around the outside and I had huge understeer for the first stint.

“The hard tyre was pretty bad, as I said, the medium tyre was much better. So for sure, in hindsight it looks like we should have had two (sets of) medium tyres but in general the car, it was just pretty bad.”

A return to China is next on the calendar, with the Shanghai International Circuit hosting its first grand prix since 2019 and with the first sprint race of the season also taking place.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –