Sainz says Abu Dhabi podium was the ideal end to a 'magic' first season with Ferrari
Carlos Sainz sealed P5 in the drivers' championship with a brilliant podium in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And the Ferrari driver remarked that this was the ideal way to end a "magic" first season with the Scuderia.
Sainz was running fourth for much of Sunday's race, having passed McLaren's Lando Norris at the start, but was promoted into the podium positions after Sergio Perez's Lap 56 retirement under the Safety Car. He held on for a sixth career top-three finish in F1 – but joked that this podium was one "no one will remember" given the championship was decided right in front of him.
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"Yes, it’s truly a great way to end a very positive first year in Ferrari for me," said Sainz. "To finish it with a podium that probably no one will remember – I’ll add it to the collection – because of whatever was happening in front.
"We were in the right place at the right time all the time with a good pace and yeah, a podium to end a magic season, first season for me at Ferrari. P5 in the championship I think. I took it all today and definitely enjoyed it."
The Spaniard added that this was perhaps his finest race for Ferrari: "I enjoyed it a lot and put together everything that I have learned through this first year to put probably my strongest race in Ferrari together."
The result also meant Sainz has ended the season on 164.5 points – his best haul by far after seven seasons in F1 – and finished ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc and former team mate Norris.
He left Abu Dhabi satisfied to have started the year well with Ferrari and ended it as the "Carlos that I wanted to be".
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"It definitely gives me satisfaction to finish the year stronger than I started. I think I also managed to start the year on a very good level, which was the biggest challenge, learning a new car," he said.
"Then I had a lot of things to improve on my driving. On the starts, on the race management and then I would say this last third of the season I’ve been the Carlos that I wanted to be, and the Carlos of the two very strong years in McLaren, and this has given me the opportunity to be very good in qualifying again, and good in the races and yes, consistent."
2021 Formula 1 drivers' championship standings
|5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari||164.5|
|6 Lando Norris McLaren||160|
|7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari||159|
With a new era dawning for F1 in 2022, and Ferrari hoping to build on third in the constructors' standings and perhaps return to their winning ways, Sainz said he's brimming with confidence going into his sophomore season with the Scuderia.
"It’s another strong sign that this year was strong, that this year was positive for me; especially the way it finished in this last third just gives me a lot of confidence going into 2022, for whatever happens and whatever car Ferrari and I have.
"We will go for it, because my confidence is high," concluded Sainz.