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Carlos Sainz

Sainz reveals how he matched Leclerc during 'challenging' 2022 season

The Ferrari driver says he had to 'reinvent' himself to match teammate Charles Leclerc and eventually take his first race win in Formula 1.

Sainz Mexico
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Carlos Sainz has opened up about how he's attempted to come to terms with the pace of teammate Charles Leclerc.

The Spaniard retired in two out of the first four races and, despite Ferrari electing to extend his contract, he still had question marks after failing to win a race or achieving at least a Pole Position with the Italian outfit.

It gradually came together for him as the season went on, notably in Canada when he fought with Max Verstappen for the victory. At the British Grand Prix, he continued that form, this time taking Pole in tricky conditions then later going on to achieve his first F1 victory.

Sainz says it was difficult for him to get up to speed with the F1-75 initially and to a point where he could challenge Leclerc and Verstappen more regularly.

"I always feel like I am quick in any kind of car, and for the first time in my career I found myself with a very competitive car but one I didn't feel comfortable and natural with," he said speaking to BBC.

"I had to challenge myself and open up new roads of set-up and driving style that I wish I didn't have to open, because I wish everything had come a lot more natural and positively."

Even though Sainz has trailed Leclerc throughout the season, he's content with working hard to find the lap time and ultimately be ahead of his teammate on statistics.

"This year he has been driving at a level that is very close to Max or any other driver," he said.

"For me he's in a way done a perfect season, apart from the two or three typical mistakes everyone does in a year, or the luck which maybe he has been lacking the same as me.

"I am not proud, because I am not ahead. The day I am ahead in the statistics is the day I will be proud. Until then, I will keep working at it, keep finding lap time in myself."

Sainz: The fact that I turned around my season makes me happy

The battle in qualifying between the pair has shifted throughout the season, notably in the last two races in US and Mexico where the average gap was 0.013s.

Even though Leclerc suffered from engine problems throughout both those race weekends, it's still an impressive feat to challenge one of the frontrunners of the season.

"It's a statistic that makes me proud about the progress - not giving up, not letting myself get comfortable with being 0.2secs behind, and always challenging myself to find new ways of driving cars, which is not easy," says Sainz.

"When you see other drivers on the grid, you can see it is difficult to turn around a season, or turn around the feeling with the car. You don't see it very often. The fact I managed to do that makes me happy."

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So how did the team do this, and what changes have been made to F1's pit-stop procedure in the last couple of years?


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