Motor racing-Sainz still hopes to fight for a title with Ferrari

By Thomson Reuters Feb 13, 2024 | 12:14 PM

By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) – Carlos Sainz said he still hoped to fight for a title in his final season at Ferrari, before seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton takes his seat, but would also remain a team player.

The 29-year-old Spaniard told reporters in a video call from the Fiorano test track, where Ferrari launched their new car on Tuesday, that he felt privileged to have worn the team’s red overalls for four years.

He said he had received plenty of messages of support, had been busy focusing on the season that starts in Bahrain on March 2 and was positive about the future.

“My overall feeling of these four years is definitely positive,” said the winner of two races for Ferrari, with five pole positions and three fastest laps, who last season was the only driver to beat Red Bull.

“I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me because I’m sure there’s going to be good things coming.

“It’s an important year for me because I’m still wearing red and I still have the target of becoming champion in Ferrari and I still have one more chance.

“But my ultimate (aim) is to become world champion in general, and then it’s who you achieve it with. Obviously ideally with Ferrari this year but if not there will be other opportunities and other chances hopefully in the future.”

The shake-up at Maranello has made Sainz a key figure in the driver market for 2025.

The possibilities include Hamilton’s Mercedes seat, a place alongside triple world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull and moving to Swiss-based Sauber, who will become the Audi factory team in 2026.

Sainz, who started in Formula One in 2015 with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, said he did not feel he needed to show anyone what he was capable of and would feel no more pressure to perform.

The target for 2024 remained the same as ever, with Sainz and team mate Charles Leclerc still chasing Ferrari’s first championship since 2008.

“The fact that I’m not going to be a Scuderia Ferrari driver in 2025 doesn’t mean that we don’t want to become champions together this year or win races this year,” he said.

“If anything I can focus even more on the present and more on the race by race, making sure I have the best possible car and feeling and not having to focus so much on development and on the future.”

Sainz said he would also still put the team first if required.

“I have always been a team player… I have always been exemplary in that sense as a driver for any team. I will definitely help Charles if I have to, in the same way that I expect Charles to help me,” he said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)