Sainz: 2022 most challenging year of his career

Carlos Sainz struggled with a 'challenging' Ferrari at the start of 2022

Carlos Sainz struggled with a ‘challenging’ Ferrari at the start of 2022

Carlos Sainz has described the 2022 Formula 1 season as the most challenging of his career to date as he battled to get on top of the Ferrari F1-75.

Sainz finished fifth in the drivers’ championship with 246 points, 208 fewer than title winner Max Verstappen.

He also finished the year 62 points shy of team-mate Charles Leclerc, who headed the standings until the Spanish Grand Prix.

However, while Leclerc seemed immediately at home in the F1-75, Sainz took time to gel with the car.

That saw a spin into retirement early in the Australian Grand Prix, and through the early part of the year typically lagged two-tenths a lap behind his team leader.

Things turned around, and at the British Grand Prix he secured pole position and a maiden grand prix win in one of the strongest performances of his career.

It heralded an important moment for the Spaniard after the early toil he was forced to endure.

“It’s been a challenging one, as you guys have seen from the outside,” Sainz observed of his 2022 campaign, his second with Ferrari.

“There was a challenging first third of the season where I struggled a bit with the car balance, with the driving style, that car, for some reason, didn’t suit me straight out of the box, and I had to fight through it quite a lot.

“And then the second two-thirds have been a lot happier with the car. I’ve been a lot more on the pace, but unfortunately, a lot of the DNFs, a lot of reliability issues along the way.”

Ferrari experienced significant reliability issues throughout 2022, costing the factory team two likely wins while customer teams also lost results.

Not all of Sainz’s retirements were reliability related.

Following his spin in Albert Park, Daniel Ricciardo turfed him at the Tamburello Chicane on the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

In Japan, he was a passenger as his car aquaplaned off the circuit while at the United States Grand Prix, George Russell tagged him at the first corner.

However, it would be reasonable to suggest his DNFs equated to more than 60 points, given he had an average finishing position of 3.5 for the year.

That would have left him far closer to Leclerc, who would have likely gained in the region of 40 points (and quite probably more given he twice retired while leading).

“It’s been the year that I’ve learned the most since 2015, that was my first year in Formula 1,” Sainz summarised.

“I’ve had tougher and easier years but never such a challenging year as 2022 where I found myself in a position where the way I was driving with his car, I was constantly off the pace in the first five, six races.

“I had to fight a lot to change some things on my driving, some things on the car, try to get the car a bit closer to my liking, but also stop having some muscle memory on the way I drive and reset a bit the way I was driving, and it took a long time.

“But then, at the same time, as soon as it happened, I felt like I had done a big step forward as a driver in my skills, in my development.

“I had learned a lot and this is probably the part of the season that I feel more proud of, because I think it would have been very easy with such a tough start to give up on the season and wait for another car to see if I was more competitive.

“But I didn’t give up on it, I kept pushing.

“It leaves me optimistic about next year.”

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