RACE DEBRIEF

    Carlos Sainz has brushed off implications – specifically those of Mercedes’ George Russell – that Ferrari are looking like potential favourites in 2022, calling it “typical” of Mercedes to “hype up the others” before the first race of the season.

    Sainz and Ferrari have indeed had a successful pre-season so far, having led the mileage charts in Barcelona before following that up with second and third place on the opening day of the Official Pre-Season Test in Bahrain. Mercedes’ new hire Russell has talked up the Scuderia’s performance, calling the team “globally the strongest” on Thursday, having also pointed them out as threats in Spain.

    READ MORE: Norris says brake problems have hampered McLaren in Bahrain testing – and warns 'it's not going to be an easy fix'

    Sainz, however, offered a strong rebuttal to that, telling the media on Friday: “I think it’s typical Mercedes, typical George. Just hype up the others and then come to the first race and blow the competition away, which is typical.

    “If it had would be the first year they’ve done it then I would maybe believe them, but they’ve done it for five six years now and they keep [performing] in the first race.

    “So, as you can imagine I don’t think much [of the comments] and yes, already in GPS [data] we can also see what they are doing and yes, I’m not going to say much… yes, I’m not going to say much,” said Sainz.

    1239097969
    The war of words between Ferrari and Mercedes has begun

    In Bahrain, under searing-hot conditions with stiff breezes keeping the drivers on their toes, Sainz added that the true pace of Ferrari and their rivals is easily disguised. He admitted that he hadn’t found much confidence, even having posted a solid 52 laps to go second behind leader Pierre Gasly on the opening day.

    “Yes, still obviously not much [confidence], because we are still obviously going through our run plan, going through the things we want to test before going here for the race weekend, and it’s still very difficult to know where everyone is.

    READ MORE: Bottas 'much happier' after Alfa Romeo enjoy productive opening day of Bahrain test

    “Particularly here in Bahrain… one hour changes everything. A wind direction change here can mean once corner becomes super tricky to super easy and some track temperature up and down just means you are two-three tenths quicker [or slower]. So it’s very difficult to take conclusions in Bahrain, even when you are testing stuff that you’re interested in taking conclusions.

    1383939982
    Sainz was second on the opening day of the Official Pre-Season Test and led the standings 90 minutes into the afternoon of Day 2

    ANALYSIS: A first look at Mercedes' astonishing new update for the Official Pre-Season Test

    “It’s particularly challenging because the track keeps changing and keeps evolving every half an hour, basically.”

    Ferrari continued their pre-season testing programme with Sainz back at the wheel, having taken over from team mate Leclerc, on the afternoon of the second day. Follow live coverage here.

    F1 TV Pro subscribers can watch Bahrain pre-season testing live and on demand, access exclusive live timing, as well as Tech Talk debriefs. Subscribe now and save 20% on your Annual F1 TV Pro subscription. Offer Valid in selected territories on web and apps until March 13. T&Cs apply

    Coverage of the Official Pre-Season Test is also available live in selected territories via your F1 broadcaster.