Carlos Sainz Jr. predicting a dominant year for Mercedes, Ferrari
MARCH 2, 2018
Renault F1 driver Carlos Sainz says the Formula 1 field will still be chasing Mercedes and Ferrari in 2018.
Some are predicting that Sainz and Renault will take a big step forward this year, but that might only be enough to move into the middle of the pack.
"I think there are not many teams besides Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull who can do a quick time with the medium tire," he said at the freezing Barcelona test this week. "So that's a positive signal for us."
But he added that Lewis Hamilton's fastest time of 1 minute, 19.333 seconds on Thursday was "a little scary." The time was .521 second ahead of the second-fastest car on Thursday's final day of practice (Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, 1:19.854) and more than 1.6 seconds quicker than Sainz's time for Renault.
"But it's still early, and it's also no secret that Hamilton and Ferrari will be fighting for pole in Australia. It's no surprise," Sainz said. "I think it will be very difficult for teams like McLaren, Renault or even Red Bull to win because Mercedes and Ferrari are at a spectacular level."
As for his Renault, in particular, Sainz continued, "We do not have a Mercedes or a Ferrari (engine), but I think it will be a car for me to take the step forward I've wanted."
But he said he is not even setting the goal of a podium.
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"No. People are obsessed with podiums," said Sainz, who has yet to record a podium finish in 60 career F1 starts. "They seem to want me to have one more than I do! You can have a podium and not a good year overall, so what I want is a season of 21 good races.
Another goal for Sainz would be to beat his highly rated teammate Nico Hulkenberg, although Sainz said, "It will not be easy to be at Nico's level -- especially in qualifying because he is a very fast driver. But I trust my skills.
"In Brazil and Abu Dhabi, I was already within a tenth of him and I'm very proud of that because I had a car that I had not developed and could not have to my liking."
Sainz may be in line to parlay a strong season into a move to Red Bull for 2019, as he is only on loan to Renault this year.
However, Sainz insisted, "That is not my dream. My only dream is to do a good year in 2018, and that will lead me to even better things within this team or outside of it.
"What Renault deserves right now is my maximum commitment to this project rather than thinking about Red Bull or other things."
source : autoweek.com