Sainz plays down Ferrari favourite tag

Carlos Sainz on track in Bahrain

Carlos Sainz has played down suggestions that Ferrari is the favourite heading into next weekend’s Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Spaniard topped Day 2 of pre-season testing in Bahrain to emphasis the potential the Scuderia appears to have.

Indeed, throughout all five days of pre-season running to date, a Ferrari has featured in the top two at the end of each day on four occasions.

The final day of running in Spain is the only exception, when Mercedes bolted on the C5 soft tyres to George Russell’s and Lewis Hamilton’s cars, and Red Bull a set of C4s for Sergio Perez.

Even still, Charles Leclerc was within 0.7s of the ultimate pace despite using the C3 rubber.

With Ferrari’s form from Spain having seemingly carried over to Bahrain, the Italian squad looks near the top of the list when it comes to early season favourites.

“At the moment Ferrari probably look globally the strongest. In every low fuel run, consecutive laps, they look very, very solid,” said George Russell on Thursday.

Sainz however is wary of the label, suggesting Mercedes is yet to reveal its hand.

“It’s typical Mercedes, typical George, just hype up the others then come to the first race and blow the competition away,” Sainz suggested.

“If it would be the first year they’ve done it then I would maybe believe them, but they’ve done it for five, six years now and they keep surprising us in the first race.

“So, as you can imagine, I don’t believe much.

“And already in GPS, you can see also what they’re doing.”

Data from Thursday’s running in Bahrain suggested the Silver Arrows had not yet turned up the wick, with speed traces suggesting it is a match for Ferrari through the corners but trailed off when it came to top speed.

Lewis Hamilton ended Friday’s running fourth fastest, 0.6s away from Sainz despite setting his best lap on a set of C5 tyres.

Mercedes sits second when it comes to accumulated mileage across the two tests to date, with just over 3100 km of running. That compares to the nearly 330km recorded by Ferrari and almost 2900 km of Red Bull.

One day of pre-season testing remains before the Bahrain Grand Prix opens the 2022 season next weekend.

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