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Carlos Sainz Thinks Bahrain is One of Red Bull’s “Strongest Tracks of the Season”

Sainz suspected during testing that the Red Bull’s tyre degradation would give them an advantage in Bahrain....

“I think we were at one of their [Red Bull’s] strongest tracks of the season,” Carlos Sainz told the media after the Bahrain GP.

It’s a bold statement considering that Max Verstappen finished ahead of Sainz in third by 25.1 seconds, but keep in mind that the gap to third in 2023 was 38.6 seconds. 

Sainz suspected during testing that the Red Bull’s tyre degradation would give them an advantage in Bahrain. He was proved right after both Red Bull’s managed long soft tyre stints without issue.

“You need to consider that we’ve been testing here three days and I’ve been seeing that Red Bull degradation on soft and it’s exactly the same as ours on the hard,” Sainz said.

“So as soon as I knew Red Bull had a new soft for the last stint, and Checo [Sergio Perez] had it, it’s not like I went, ‘Okay, this is my chance.’

“I’ve seen the long runs they did on the soft tyre in testing, and you could see that they basically have the same deg on the soft as what everyone has on the hard. So I wasn’t getting too excited.”

It did look like Sainz might fight Perez for second in the last third of the race. With 21 laps left of the race, Sainz jumped on hard tyres one lap before Perez grabbed his last set of softs. Perez had the advantage early on, but as the laps dwindled, Sainz started to match his pace and by the last six laps Sainz was quicker. Unfortunately for Ferrari, there just wasn’t enough race left to close the gap further with the final gap between them shrinking to 2.7 seconds.

Sainz knew from the beginning that it was unrealistic to beat the Red Bull’s in Bahrain.

“When I saw the long runs of Max [Verstappen] and Checo in FP2 and then the long runs of testing, there’s no secrets,” he said.

“We’ve been here three days. I knew they had a three or four-tenth advantage – maybe not half a second like George was saying – depending on track conditions. But I knew it was going to be very difficult to beat the Red Bulls.

“They also kept a new soft [tyre set], which shows a bit what the intentions and their plans were. I knew the Red Bulls today were going to be very, very difficult to beat. So to keep up with them and have the possibility to fight is already a good surprise.”

It’s at lower degradation circuits that he believes Ferrari will have the advantage, a sign of optimism from the Spaniard.

“I think we were at one of their strongest tracks of the season with very high tyre deg at the rear.

“Hopefully when we got to a more front-limited track and maybe better Tarmac, our car will come alive and we will be able to mount a better challenge on Max for the win.”

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