New Ferrari recruit Carlos Sainz feels that the team has definitely made huge strides compared to last season, but knows there is still plenty of improvement required.
“More or less, what we are seeing from the car is what we expected,” Sainz said.
“It’s still too early to draw conclusions. What I can assure you is we have more power than last year. We measure it and we see it. That’s good news.”
Sainz, however, said that the true picture will be far more apparent after the first race of the season in Bahrain.
“But you still have to wait a bit for the first race,” he said.
“We are happy with what we see and relatively satisfied with the correlation between track and simulation. Now what we need to see is where the others are.
“I don’t think we will be the fastest on the straights, I’m not going to deceive you. But we must not forget that last year we came from far behind and this year at least we have to make a step forward.
“What happens is that I’m pretty sure the others have also gained power.”
The 26-year-old said that while a team can make significant strides, it needs to keep a check on its competition. They too, after all, can improve just as much.
“No matter how happy we are with the step we’ve made in the engine, in aerodynamics, and how the car is doing on track, if all of a sudden your rivals are going faster you don’t exactly care because they’re going faster than you.
“The Red Bull looks good, the McLaren I am sure it will be there.
“McLaren is going to step forward for sure. Alpine doesn’t look bad either.
“We’ve seen the McLaren has an incredible top speed and we expected that, that the rest would also make a step forward.”
Sainz said that there was no way Mercedes would be as poor as they were during pre-season testing in Bahrain.
“I don’t believe anything about Mercedes or what I see from the other teams. It is still too early.”
Comparisons to last year’s SF1000 is not possible, according to Sainz.
“I can’t compare it to anything because I don’t know about last year’s car.
“I don’t really know how much progress it has made.
“I still can’t afford to make comparisons because I don’t have that experience [but] Charles doesn’t speak ill of the car, it is already something positive.
“For my part, I’m focusing more on myself, trying to learn from the car, from the team, trying to adapt, be comfortable.”
The Spaniard said he was confident entering the upcoming season and his lack of experience with the car could be the only thing that stops him from getting the maximum out of his car early on.
“I personally have no insecurity. What I do have is perhaps a lack of experience and that lack of the last bit of confidence to know that in races 1, 2 and 3 I am going to get 100 per cent of the car’s potential.
“After being in four different teams in six years, I have realized that F1 is called F1 but each car could be called a different way.”
Sainz said it was very important to get accustomed to his new car, as all of them are different in a number of ways.
“Each car is different, each car has its driving techniques, its braking style, its ‘feeling’ with the steering wheel, with accelerator, transmission, gearbox, buttons, how the car reacts to each driver input is totally different.
“You have to reset all your references, all the things that you are used to doing.
“Reset everything, forget everything you know and start over from scratch.
“It will seem aggressive to you, but I have changed teams every two years so I’m more used to going through that difficult transition.”