Sainz scored his and Ferrari’s first podium of the season last time out in Monaco.
He’s no stranger to moving teams having driven for Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren between 2015 and 2020.
Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sainz explained how his various team changes over the years have ‘opened his eyes’ to the level of adaptation needed in F1.
“Yeah, well it’s something that at first when I changed from Toro Rosso to Renault, I thought ‘well okay these two cars are completely different, but maybe this is maybe a one-off’, but then changing from Renault to McLaren it was then completely different [cars] again and then McLaren to Ferrari was completely different again,” Sainz said.
“So it get opening my eyes a bit how different everything is from those four different teams and how much you need to adapt in that way. I guess I have some practice with it being in four different teams in five or six different years, obviously has given me that awareness, but I would say it’s more down to a detail. I would say when I arrived to Renault, that first race in Austin I was in the pace, straightaway.
“But I felt like I lacked the last two tenths from the toys, the diff maps, the engine braking and the last bit of driving style to extract the last two tenths. And the same applied to McLaren and probably same applies to Ferrari, and then it’s more also… all the setup options that you have in the car, how to use them, how to exploit them depending on the track, and that I’m talking a lot more about the mechanical and the aero, that you just don’t know what is going to suit each track, and you probably need years of experience with that car to know that one goes in one direction or the other depending on on the circuit.”
Former McLaren teammate Lando Norris has revealed he’s been forced to adjust his driving style for this season, even though he hasn’t moved teams.
Sainz has had to do the same as he looks to get on level terms with Charles Leclerc.
“But yeah I don’t know, I’m just, you know, spending time at the factory, as you guys all know, and trying to understand every single detail of the car, how to drive it,” Sainz added. “Also why Charles is so quick in qualifying and trying to figure out what is he doing to be that quick, and trying to learn from that.
“F1 cars nowadays are so complex and they have so many things that you can actually do as a driver inside the cockpit and change the tools, change so many setup tools to play around, that is… they are very complex and you need to put the time, the dedication to it. But at the same time if you don’t have the capacity as a driver also to adapt, it’s impossible.
“So I’m still having to change the style, the driving, and having that open mind, that probably what I did in the McLaren is not going to work in the Ferrari, and I need to change a couple of techniques on my driving side and I’m having to do that, so it’s complex, it needs more time to explain it.”