Formula One

Sainz ‘very concerned’ by Aston Martin threat


Ferrari came into the 2023 season confident that they would be the team leading the charge against another season of domination by Red Bull. But just one race in, Carlos Sainz admits that this confidence has taken a hard knock.

Aston Martin had looked in strong form in pre-season testing, although many wondered whether that would carry into practice, qualifying and race performance. But the Bahrain GP has given a clear answer to the question.

Fernando Alonso qualified for the race in fifth place, and despite placed to Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell and getting hit by his own team mate on the opening lap, he recovered to storm his way onto the podium.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23.
05.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day.

The highlight of the race was Alonso’s charge to catch Sainz and force his way past the Ferrari. Try as he might, Sainz had no answer to the Aston’s pace on Sunday night which he described as “very concerning”.

That worries him about where it leaves the team in 2023. “Time to put our heads down, work hard and see how we can close the gap to the top. It’s only race one, so we’ll keep pushing no matter what.

“Where we are right now is behind Aston in the race and clearly behind Red Bull,” he told the media in the paddock, adding that the SF-23 seemed to be suffering greater tyre degradation.

“It’s clear their car has something, both Red Bull and Aston, where they degrade a lot less,” he explained. “If you look at Mercedes and us, we have very similar degradation. These other two cars, for some reason, they don’t degrade.

“It’s something we will have to look into, analyse and see what we can do,” he admitted, while adding that the imbalance might be track-specific.

“I wish that as soon as we go to other tracks where we cook less the rear tyres, we can hold on better,” he said. “We knew already from testing that it was going to be tough here in Bahrain and now we need to focus on improving for the upcoming races.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23.
05.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day.

Sainz described his duel with Alonso as “a nice battle”, even though it had allowed Lewis Hamilton to catch them and meant the Mercedes nearly managed to pass him in the closing laps.

“I felt it from behind,” he said when asked about the slight contact with Alonso while they were sparring. “But to be honest, I think it was a nice clean battle. It was just a little touch.

“[The battle] nearly unfortunately cost me a position to Lewis as well, because in our car, as soon as you push a bit to defend from Fernando, you cook the tyres.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23 makes a pit stop.
05.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day.

“It’s problem that we have too much degradation, the tyres get too hot when we start pushing. It means we don’t have a lot of margin in the race.

Sainz’ team mate Charles Leclerc failed to finish the race after his car stopped on track on lap 40. “We had a solid gap behind us and were managing the pace well until unfortunately, we lost power.

“It’s a shame and we will look into the causes to make sure we understand what happened,” he added.

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Sainz ‘very concerned’ by Aston Martin threat

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