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Sainz admits Verstappen FEAR and delivers damning Ferrari verdict

Sainz admits Verstappen FEAR and delivers damning Ferrari verdict

Sainz admits Verstappen FEAR and delivers damning Ferrari verdict

Sainz admits Verstappen FEAR and delivers damning Ferrari verdict

Carlos Sainz has shed light on Max Verstappen's formidable dominance and fears he's a force that managed to redefine success without having to even reach full throttle.

Verstappen's won his third-straight world championship title in 2023, amassing an astounding 290-point lead over second-place Sergio Perez. Remarkably, Red Bull's triumph was so commanding that they could have secured the constructors' championship even without Perez's contributions.

Amid this saga, Ferrari found themselves engaging in fierce battles with the likes of Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren for coveted positions on the podium. Despite the challenging landscape, Sainz etched a memorable moment in the season with a victory at the Singapore Grand Prix — the lone non-Red Bull triumph.

Together with team-mate Charles Leclerc, they clinched a total of seven podium finishes.

Carlos Sainz doesn't feel Max Verstappen had to reach full throttle to win races in 2023
Max Verstappen won 19 of 22 races in the 2023 F1 season

Sainz: Verstappen form scares me

And yet, Sainz believes for all Verstappen's records and historic margins - the Dutchman never actually needed to maximise himself and the RB19 to take victories.

“It’s been a complicated season with a car that was better on Saturday in qualifying than on Sunday in the race, we went on track with hopes but then came away with a lot of frustration,” Sainz said at an Estrella Galicia sponsors event.

“As for Verstappen‘s dominance, I think he didn’t need to go 100 per cent, he only did it when he needed to and that aspect is what scares me the most.”

“Max has gone 100 per cent when he has had to go 100 per cent. There have been many races where he and Red Bull, looking at telemetry and analysis, were already 10 seconds ahead, they didn’t need to take another five seconds off us and maybe they kept it.

“That’s my theory, my opinion and that’s why I say to the team that we have to gain not four tenths, but six, because I’m sure they didn’t need to give 100 percent in some races. You have to go with the mentality that maybe they didn’t give 100 percent in the races where they had a big margin.”

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc hope to challenge Verstappen next season

Sainz: Races are deceptive

Sainz went on to reveal that Ferrari are currently assessing the 2023 season to strategise for a stronger challenge against Red Bull in 2024, aiming to thwart Verstappen's bid for a fourth consecutive title. Ferrari's strong finish to the year, marked by Sainz's Singapore victory and Leclerc's impressive Monza performance, included four podiums in the final five races.

Particularly noteworthy was Leclerc's race-long battle for victory against both Red Bulls in the inaugural Las Vegas GP, showcasing Ferrari's competitive resurgence.

“There are still a lot of meetings to analyse everything, in January there will be the review with one month to go and then you will have a better look at everything,” Sainz added.

“Red Bull understands very well what the car has to have with this regulation. You see that on Saturday we can beat them or match them, you see that you are not far away, but in the race it’s half a second per lap, half a minute in the race, it’s deceptive.

“We have all learned that their great advantage is their versatility on Sunday. That’s where I think we have to find the key. In June 2022 we thought we weren’t that far away, as Mercedes thought, but 2023 showed us that we didn’t take the right direction.”

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