It was a solid start to his journey with Ferrari for Carlos Sainz at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. The Spaniard had been on the pace from the start of the weekend and was the faster of the two Ferrari drivers during the Free Practice sessions.
It wasn't until the final lap of qualifying that Charles Leclerc pulled out a great lap to qualify for P4 while Carlos Sainz could only manage to be the eighth-fastest.
When questioned about what happened at the start of the race, when he seemed to lose multiple positions, Carlos Sainz replied:
"I did that [start] on purpose because I wanted to do this race, I wanted to complete the race. At the beginning, I made some mistakes with the gears. But then during the first lap, I was very cautious, more than when I was at McLaren. I wanted to find out how the car reacted with the wind and the dirty air created by the cars ahead."
“And when I found myself with clean air ahead, I started to understand the car better. I found my pace and I was very fast, so, I’m quite happy. The first lap it was maybe my fault because I was a bit too cautious," Sainz added.
Didn't expect the pace to be so good: Carlos Sainz
Throughout the race, however, Carlos Sainz was able to propel himself back up the order while maintaining a good pace. At the end of the race, if it was not for a lap or two, Sainz might have even been able to overtake Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren to finish seventh.
When asked if he expected to keep such a pace at the start of the race, Carlos Sainz was quick to point out that he didn't expect to be on such a level so early in his time at Ferrari.
“I didn’t expect [my pace] to be so good already in the first race," Sainz said. In particular, if you look at my stints with the medium and the hard tires, I was really fast."
"So, it’s a pity for the first lap, because without that bad first lap, I could have been closer to the two McLarens to fight more with them. But, yes, with that first lap, I found myself a little bit too far behind," Sainz added.
Ferrari was able to put together a positive first weekend in 2021 and will be looking to make further progress this season.