After seeing how competitive his team turned out at the Turkish Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz believes he “wouldn’t change the decision” to use a new power unit.
Following Charles Leclerc’s change to a new engine in Russia, which included the most recent update to Ferrari’s hybrid system, it was Sainz’s turn last weekend to switch to his fourth power unit of 2021, resulting in a grid penalty.
When Sainz observed how quick Leclerc was during low-fuel runs on Friday, he admitted to feeling “a little bit of a regret” that he wouldn’t be able to compete for a podium with his teammate on a weekend where Ferrari was competitive.
Leclerc led for large spells of the wet race on Sunday, losing third position to Sergio Perez but holding off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for fourth.
Sainz advanced from the back of the grid to eighth place, just four seconds behind Lando Norris’ McLaren, the team with which Ferrari is battling for third place in the constructors’ title.
Despite missing out on what appears to be a great opportunity to revenge McLaren, Sainz stated he supports the team’s decision to accept the grid penalty in Istanbul.
“No, I wouldn’t change the decision, I think it was the perfect race to take the penalty to then do a comeback,” Sainz said. “Of course, without the penalty with the old engine I would have been able to start more up front, but in a long season you need to put everything into perspective and this is a development that is giving us a bit of performance.
“So, I think the decision is taken correctly and we put it in as soon as we can, and it has given me also today the opportunity to make it back through the field.
“As you saw I could overtake and this is also thanks to the good job that everyone is doing in Maranello with the new power unit.”
While Ferrari said its engine upgrade was intended more at 2022, team president Binotto claimed Leclerc would have started further behind than fourth if he had used Maranello’s previous specification.
“If I look behind [Charles], it was very close, and I’m pretty sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification,” said Binotto, who sat out the Turkish Grand Prix and worked from the factory.
When asked if Ferrari’s power unit update will enable it to overcome McLaren in 2021, Sainz indicated the third-place battle will continue to swing back and forth depending on the circuit.
“It’s a tricky question to answer,” Sainz explained as Ferrari narrowed the gap to 7.5 points. “As you saw this weekend, we were quicker than McLaren. In Sochi, they were quicker than us, so I still believe it’s going to be up and down until the end of year.
“What this engine should give us, I think it’s the possibility for the circuits where we are behind to be a bit closer to them, and on circuits where we are in front, to be maybe a bit further up.
“This is what we were looking for since the upgrade was pushed forward, and what we hope is going to give us that little edge to try and make the fight a bit more complicated.”
The uniforms of Formula One racing drivers are currently available at the following websites for a reasonable price: