Carlos Sainz and the missed opportunity to dominate

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Carlos Sainz and the missed opportunity to dominate

The feeling with which the man from Madrid will close the 2022 season is far from last year and he himself does not understand why he is so far behind

Except for a radical change this Sunday in Austin, Carlos Sainz will lose almost all his chances of finishing second in the Formula 1 World Championship. The Madrid native will conclude an unforgettable campaign, in which he took his first pole position and his first regularly compete for the podium and become a fixture in the alternative to the ‘top 3’. This may be the problem.

While Charles Leclerc started the year in high positions, especially for a Ferrari looking to get back to the top and fight for wins, Sainz had a much harder time. The new regulations that came into effect this year left him sidelined, something he has admitted. You just need to review his statements after every Saturday: “I missed a tenth”, “I was unlucky and I missed two or three tenths”, “in that sector I lost the tenth to fight for pole position” or the very eloquently “I’m tired of staying half a tenth off pole”. It’s the usual tonic: almost always good, but not always perfect.

For the first time since arriving in Formula 1, Carlos Sainz has started to fight for significant achievements. It’s not the same to fight for fifth, fourth or, with a bit of luck, third, than being forced to occupy the ‘top 3’, as long as the above leave it. After being the first Ferrari driver in his first year in red, much more was expected. It can’t be ignored that he was unlucky: if it weren’t for the mechanics, it would have been a chaotic strategy, or a perpetual pit stop. Ferrari is no match for what the challenge demanded, neither in the box nor in the schedule.

Sainz’s difficulties in adapting to the new style that Formula 1 will require from 2022 has given him a lot of headaches. The FIA’s development work has made cars heavier, but also more conducive to being able to drive close together. Something that forced him to change his driving style. “I had to completely change my driving style, in a very unnatural way, and make it natural, which takes a long time,” he admitted before the Austin race. He himself pointed out months ago: he had no confidence in himself, in his car and in his driving style, to be able to achieve what he wanted.

The fight with Red Bull leaves no room for doubt. Max Verstappen is, for the tests we have to mention, the toughest possible rival and when they solved the reliability problems of the first races, he was unstoppable. Nothing and no one has been able to prevent the Dutchman’s two-time championship, which has been better pound for pound in all areas.

Only Leclerc, more for first loot than for earning, could support him in mathematics until he arrived in Japan. The Monegask’s struggles to turn pole positions into victories have been a burden that the Scuderia has not overcome, while seeing things get no better on the other side of the penalty area. And it wouldn’t be because Sainz wasn’t complaining. “The team clearly listened to me and knew where my problems were, but in a time of budget caps and with a car arrangement as simple as the one we have today, they are very simple single-seaters. You have very little freedom to play with the mood. It wasn’t until very late that we introduced some things that really helped me get a bit more out of the car.”

The data supports this argument. Since his win at Silverstone so far, the time difference with Leclerc has been much smaller, although the leader of the Italian team is clear who he is. The difference between Sainz and Leclerc has not widened, but also not shortened enough.

Sainz is thus forced to reconsider everything. A new mini pre-season coming right at the end of the campaign in which he will fight (other than surprise) with George Russell for third and not higher levels, which should be his goal. What happens this Sunday will largely depend on his feelings for the latter part of the campaign.

Source: La Verdad

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