Carlos Sainz believes that only Ferrari can challenge Red Bull for the Drivers’ and Constructor Championships next season with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton not mentioned as potential challengers.
Ferrari endured a disappointing start to the 2023 season as they struggled to extract performance from the unpredictable SF-23, frustrating the Tifosi with inconsistent displays compared to their lightning-fast start to 2022.
The Scuderia failed to go the distance in their fight with Red Bull in 2022 but they remain the only team to have consistently challenged Max Verstappen in the fight for race wins and World Championships since the regulation changes came into effect at the end of the 2021 season.
Speaking to the Spanish media about Ferrari’s championship hopes for 2024, Sainz explained: “I am always optimistic before the season starts,” he told Spanish press at a sponsors event.
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“I was also optimistic last year and we stumbled. You have to be. I think that if you look at the last two years, the only ones who have been able to stand up to Red Bull a little have been the Ferrari, in the first half of last year and now with the victory in Singapore and the podium in Monza.
“Since there are these new regulations Red Bull is unbeatable, but if there is someone who can win from time to time to Red Bull, it’s us. I think I’m in the best place to try again next year but there are still six races left and we still have to focus on what we can improve to arrive prepared.”
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If Sainz’s prediction proves true then this spells bad news for Hamilton and Mercedes. The 38-year-old is still chasing his record-breaking eighth World Championship but has been unable to fight for wins in the ground-effect era as his team continue to struggle.
George Russell’s first career win in Brazil last season remains the Silver Arrows’ only triumph of the new regulation period, and they have yet to record a victory in 2023. Ferrari and Sainz, meanwhile, claimed their first of the year in Singapore last month.
The two teams are separated by just 28 points heading into the final five races of the season, but Ferrari have looked the stronger of the pair on balance since the summer break, raising concerns about Mercedes’ prospects in 2024.
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