Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Carlos Sainz has had a very strange and difficult season, well, Scuderia Ferrari overall has had a strange and difficult season, but Sainz really has had to endure a tumultuous time this year, and will probably be looking forward to the winter break to recharge and come back for the 2023 season re-energised.
Sainz started the year in high spirits, and so did Ferrari, with a magnificent 1-2 finish in Bahrain, the 2022 season opener. At Saudi Arabia, Sainz finished a solid P3 whilst Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen battled for the victory. But in Australia, some cracks in Sainz's racecraft appeared, as he was beached in the gravel in the high-speed section of the middle sector and was forced to DNF.
Sadly, the very next race at Imola didn't fare him any better either, as he was beached in the gravel again after contact at the first corner and braking zone. The next three rounds were quite solid, finishing P3 in Miami, P4 in Spain, and P2 in Monaco. However, Sainz retired from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, meaning he had retired from three of the first eight Grands Prix, nearly half of the races at that point.
Sainz had his season highlight (so far) at the British Grand Prix, winning the race and taking his maiden victory in F1. However, the glory didn’t last too long as, at the Austrian Grand Prix, Sainz retired once again where he could have easily finished P2 before his car caught fire.
Over the next six races, Sainz finally found his groove, scoring two podiums and the other results being on the cusp of the podium.
However, in typical fashion for the 2022 season, he retired from the next two races. A huge crash in a rainy Japanese Grand Prix, and a George Russell-caused collision at the very first corner of the very first lap at the US Grand Prix where Sainz started from the pole position.
Even at the most recent Grand Prix, at the time of writing, Ferrari were just absolutely nowhere near the top in Mexico.
Now, I do have a small theory on this; one, Ferrari's motivation is just so low at the moment since being knocked out of championship contention and really throwing away the championship. There seems to be a bit of unease within the Ferrari garage, and several people, both online and offline, criticise the leadership of Team Principal Mattia Binotto. So this could be a huge reason as we all know the pressure that Ferrari puts on its drivers, just ask Sebastian Vettel after the 2020 season.
However, the other theory I have is that a lot of drivers have one season where they just seem to make more mistakes, and usually, they learn from them. Max Verstappen for example, made a lot of mistakes in his early days, especially at the beginning of the 2018 season, most specifically at the Chinese Grand Prix. He made a mistake by trying to run around the outside of Lewis Hamilton in a fast left-right corner and then being over-eager at the end of Shanghai's long back straight, hitting Vettel and spinning the pair around. Perhaps for Sainz, this season is where he'll learn from his mistakes and be able to really take it to Max Verstappen and Red Bull in 2023. I'm sure, Leclerc will be hoping to do the same.
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