If the main task for Carlos Sainz Jr. in the previous F1 season was about mounting a tough challenge to Red Bull lending substance and competition to teammate Charles Leclerc, then the challenge this year, or so it seems, is to somehow find the lost groove.
Nothing’s going right for Ferrari, is it?
Some would say, the main job right now is to accelerate the point scoring and you know they’re making sense.
Never before in the past half a decade have the Scuderia Ferrari drivers been so slow at point scoring, demonstrating a rather sluggish start to the season as what’s evident right now.
Though, on his part, Carlos Sainz jr. has been the central highlight of a failed plea directed at the F1 stewards with regards to his Australian Grand Prix penalty, which perhaps consumed more than a fortnight of the Scuderia Ferrari family’s time.
The only positive, if any, for Carlos has been that, where it stands now, he has a clear edge over his Ferrari teammate on the point’s table; the Spaniard is on P5 with 20 points whilst Leclerc, still stuck in a single-digit score is in a rather despicable position on P10.
Meanwhile, the frontrunner from Red Bull Max Verstappen is already seemingly running away having scored 69 points so far.
But that is not the only reason why someone like Carlos Sainz must lift his game at the forthcoming Grand Prix at Baku, the beating heart of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Where his recent performances are concerned, then it’s pretty clear that Sainz’ own record at Azerbaijan is anything but enviable.
For starters, purely on raw pace, his teammate Leclerc has been clearly the faster driver where street courses are concerned; Charles has set the pole position at Monaco and Baku in 2022, while Sainz set each of the three poles of his career, all of which came last year at USA, Belgium and Great Britain.
But in terms of the performance in the actual Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz has been rather sluggish and perceptibly struggling where the rampant street track of Baku is concerned.
Forget race win, the only time he’s ever broken into the top five here at the pacy Azerbaijan was back in 2018, wherein he’d beat Nico Hulkenberg, his former teammate here at Renault in claiming a fifth.
Since then, Carlos Sainz has endured a rather lacklustre run at a track that’s famous for opening lap incidents, red flags, last lap overtakes and surprising skirmishes.
While in his maiden effort at the challenging Baku street course, Carlos Sainz would bag a P8, his most recent drive here would culminate into a regrettable DNF.
Of course, what made Ferrari’s 2022 drive at Azerbaijan stuff that could be compared to some peril nightmare was the fact that both cars would race retire owing to a mechanical malfunction; Sainz enduring a Hydraulics-related gaffe.
Yet, having said all of that what’s rather emphatic is that the main goal, Carlos Sainz insists, is to register as many race wins as possible this year and take the fight at the world championship level.
Surely, this is Formula 1 where just about anything is possible, where last lap overtakes lead to surprising and unpredictable outcomes but where it stands right now, then it makes perfect sense to suggest that Ferrari have a mountain of issues right in front and beating the Bulls or combating the much better race pace of the twin Mercedes’ aren’t the only challenges.
Forget not that there’s this racier and reinvigorated Fernando Alonso in his Aston Martin and going purely the Sunday performance, then it could be said that the Ferrari’s aren’t that close to the AMR 23.
With great zeal and a much improved race performance, it appears- unless one is very much mistaken or day dreaming- that getting the better of Alonso in itself, is quite an onerous challenge.
Though from the looks of it, if there’s one driver of the two at Ferrari who seems capable to getting his elbows out with his compatriot, then it’s Sainz, not Leclerc.
Sainz was aggressive and wasn’t holding back at Australia.
But getting into double digit points, at least as of now, would remain the Monegasque driver’s biggest challenge.
So, can Sainz make it all fine for Ferrari in the race that’s to follow?
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