Carlos Sainz feels the third half of the 2021 F1 season he felt how he was in 2020 as he adds him beating Charles Leclerc was more symbolic than anything.
For Sainz, the 2021 F1 season turned out to be quite the year in the end. There was possible trepidation when he signed for Ferrari from McLaren in 2020. At that stage, it didn’t look a great move as the British outfit were on the up but the Italian manufacturers’ were not even though it was more than likely that they will step up again.
So, he got on with it and after a sluggish enough start, he knuckled down and drove spiritedly and produced some inspired performances. A second place at Monaco ahead of his friend Lando Norris. After which only one race did not produce points (France), three more podiums were included and a fine performance finished the season off in Abu Dhabi with third and a highly strong qualifying even saw out qualify Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes.
But even preceding those events and leading up to the final race, over the last third of the season he produced some steely and steady performances to boot and the season ended with a strong finish also. Sainz himself was happy with his season overall as towards the end he found himself in the same rhythm as he was at McLaren.
“It definitely gives me satisfaction to finish the year stronger than I started,” said Sainz. “I think I also managed to start the year on a very good level, which was the biggest challenge, learning a new car. Then I had a lot of things to improve on my driving.
“On the starts, on the race management and then I would say this last third of the season I’ve been the Carlos that I wanted to be, and the Carlos of the two very strong years in McLaren, and this has given me the opportunity to be very good in qualifying again, and good in the races and yeah, consistent,” summed up Sainz.
That seasonal consistency came to fruition big time with the end result being fifth in the WDC with the last day podium pipping Norris for same at the death. Consistency and confidence were the name of the game and it helped him achieve Top and best non Mercedes/Red Bull driver along with Ferrari grabbing 3rd in the constructors’.
He did eventually beat teammate Leclerc in only his first year together. But for him, it was more a ‘symbolic’ than anything. “More symbolic than anything, because it’s not like finishing fifth, sixth or seventh in the Championship would have changed my mood going into the winter break,” said Sainz.
“But, it’s, yeah, another strong sign that this year was strong, that this year was positive for me, especially the way it finished in this last third, just gives me a lot of confidence going into 2022, for whatever happens and whatever car Ferrari and I have, we will go for it, because my confidence is high,” summed up Sainz.
In short, if anything, Sainz possibly wishes the season was still on going with his new found confidence and positivity. With new rules and regulations coming in ‘22, the target will be to bridge the gap to Red Bull and Mercedes that bit more and take the fight to them.
The story was written by Neil Farell
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Here’s Charles Leclerc speaking on learning more of race management