Bahrain GP | Sainz expecting fight with Aston Martin rather than Red Bull

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By Connor Bacon

Carlos Sainz believes that Aston Martin are more of a rival to Ferrari than Red Bull who locked out the front row and look like the class of the field.

Sainz qualified 4th, 0.154s behind teammate Charles Leclerc, but ahead of the practice topping Fernando Alonso who only completed one run due to having a single fresh set of soft tyres.

But, despite out-qualifying his fellow countrymen, he feels that Aston Martin are better in terms of deg which is backed up by Alonso’s solid long run pace and the fact that the SF-23, like its predecessor, struggles with managing its tyres over a stint.

“We knew,” said Sainz when asked if he was surprised by the AMR23’s speed. “There’s no secrets nowadays in F1 with GPS data and how everyone runs the car.

“We knew they were going to be quick, it’s true we beat them in quali but in the race, we expect to be level par or [Aston to have] lower degradation than us.

“It’s going to be a tough Sunday, even if I always go into races thinking we can win them.”

A fight with F1’s most experience driver does not faze the Spaniard, given the fact he raced him regularly when the pair were a feature of F1’s midfield battle for a few years.

“I’ve been fighting with him [Alonso] for six or seven years back since 2015 so I know how to fight him well.,” he said of a potential race long battle.

“It will be good fun having him up there.”

Many in the paddock were not expecting Ferrari to qualify so strongly and although Sainz said he’s pleased that they had the second quickest car, he reiterated that the race will be a different story.

He was, however, happy with how he recovered from a “difficult Friday,” where he did not feature in either of the session’s top 10 order.

“I still need to look into yesterday because there was something weird going on for me,” Sainz explained.

“I probably didn’t have the cleanest of Fridays going into qualifying, which probably has put me half a step behind but given all the situations, to be catching up through quali and putting in a decent lap at the end to qualify P4 is a decent place to start – but not where I want to be with Ferrari.

“So, we’ll do everything we can from now on to keep progressing and make steps in the right direction.

“If you asked me before the test if I’d be happy, we’re in P4 in quali I’d say no, but probably after the difficult Friday I had and how irrelevant it was for me going into today, I would say it’s not actually that bad.”

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari