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F1 title hopes not over if Ferrari begins 2023 badly

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Workforce-mate Charles Leclerc received two of the opening three rounds final season to thrust Ferrari into drivers’ and groups’ championship competition, however a mixture of poor reliability and technique – plus sturdy in-season Crimson Bull growth – enabled Max Verstappen to comfortably defend his crown.

Added to how strongly Crimson Bull carried out in pre-season testing in Bahrain final week, the Milton Keynes squad is the clear favorite heading into the marketing campaign.

However Sainz has warned towards assuming the title battle can be over if Ferrari will not be instantly threatening Crimson Bull for victory within the season opener.

Citing the 2 gasoline glitches that prompted Verstappen to retire in Bahrain and Australia final 12 months to path Leclerc by 46 factors, the Spaniard mentioned: “What we discovered final 12 months very clearly is that whoever wins the primary race, it does not imply you are going to win the championship.

“In case you DNF with two automobiles on the primary race, you are not going to lose the championship, as a result of it is precisely what occurred final 12 months between us and Crimson Bull. We additionally know the way it completed.

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“No matter occurs on this first race, keep humble, follow your plan of growth of the issues that you simply need to enhance, as a result of the championship will not be received or misplaced on this first race and there is nonetheless 22 left.”

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Picture by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Sainz added it was “inconceivable” to position Ferrari within the pecking order based mostly purely on testing, with the “final two or three tenths” of a second in comparison with their rivals an unknown.

“What we do not know is the final two or three tenths,” he mentioned. “However in the long run in F1, the final two or three tenths are an important as a result of two or three tenths is an enormous quantity on this world.

“I don’t know the place we are going to fall in these final two or three tenths with the Crimson Bull, with the Aston Martin, with the Mercedes. It is inconceivable to know.

“It’s no secret that they appear to be the strongest ones with Crimson Bull most likely main the way in which. Now we need to see the place we match into that matrix.”

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Whereas 2022 factors runner-up Leclerc was equally coy on Ferrari’s early probabilities, he did emphasise that the SF-23 challenger has improved on all of its predecessor’s issues.

Leclerc mentioned: “Straightline velocity was most likely a weak point final 12 months. We targeted on {that a} bit extra and we gained a few of it, shedding a little bit of velocity within the corners.

“However general, I really feel like we have completed job and all of the weaknesses that we had final 12 months are improved. I am assured that it is a greater automobile.”

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