Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz admits to being unnecessarily cautious in the opening phases of 2021 Bahrain GP, and describes how he found comfort.

Sunday’s F1 Bahrain GP was the Spaniard’s first ever with Ferrari, and so Sainz explains he was ‘over-cautious’ so as to avoid a disastrous debut with the Italian team. Starting eighth, the 26-year-old failed to improve from his grid slot and finished in the same position.

Teammate Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, fell from a starting spot of fourth to end the race sixth. With time to adapt, Sainz explains his actions were deliberate in Bahrain, as he seeks to ease himself into his time with the team. “Honestly, I had a bad first lap, I didn’t know how the car was going to react at the start to this wind and to the dirty air,” he said to TV media.

“I was a bit over-cautious, I am not going to lie, it was on purpose. There will be time in next few races to attack and do what I was doing in McLaren. At the moment, I am taking it easy, but once I was in clean air, the pace was very good, and I found myself with a very good feeling with the car and I could push, especially on the medium and the hard stint, better than the McLaren in front or better than I thought,” Sainz said.

The Spaniard maintains that his pace was sufficient in the race – something which he says is the ‘most important’ takeaway from his debut in red. Sainz also argues that lap one being a strong suit for him last season should mean he is not required to overdo things.

“I don’t want to do any stupid stuff in the first few races, I need to get the races in the bag and try and feel the car in these situations,” explained Sainz. “Also, the car in the first few laps was pretty different to McLaren, so I was doing multiple things, and in front of me, it was a train of DRS, so I couldn’t really attack.

“It was a conscious approach to this race, Lap 1 hasn’t been my weakness, so I’ll do it in coming races. The most important thing was that I had good pace. To be honest I felt like a bit of a rookie in those fights, taking it easy, giving a bit of space. Not knowing what the car was going to do, I took it a bit too easy,” Sainz summed up.

Talking more in general, Sainz felt better than what he expected after the first race. “I feel good, I felt close to Charles, especially the second and third stint,” he said. “I think I was very quick to be honest, that’s why I am very happy.

“I lost a lot of time at the beginning of the race with two slower cars, but honestly I have been closer than what I thought and expected. I still have a lot of learn in qualifying and race but once I get on top of it, I’ll be good,” summed up Sainz.

Here’s how F1 Bahrain GP panned out