Sainz now able to push without fear of crashing Ferrari F1 car

Sainz has struggled in the early races of 2022 compared to teammate Charles Leclerc, as he found it hard to get the most out of the fast car the Scuderia built for the new regulations.

Retirements in Saudi Arabia, Imola and Azerbaijan further set the Spaniard back as they limited his seat time and prevented him from gaining momentum.

In Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, however, Sainz was the fastest man on track as he chased down winner Max Verstappen until the chequered flag.

While Sainz was disappointed to lose out to Red Bull’s world champion as his wait for a maiden F1 win continues, he said the Montreal weekend was a step forward for him as he feels more comfortable pushing the F1-75 to its limits, stating he «didn’t leave an inch to the walls» trying to find a way past Verstappen.

When asked later on Sunday if he now feels capable of challenging Verstappen and Leclerc on a regular basis, Sainz said: «Well, I hope so, but as I said a few races ago, I want to take it a bit more race by race, you know, not thinking too much about the championship or anything like that.

«I really want to focus in getting to a track and see if I can get myself in a good window of performance and comfort inside the car. I think this weekend I did that, right since FP1 I looked very quick, both in qualifying and race pace.

«In the race I was pushing flat out without any fear of losing the car, like I had, for example, in Barcelona.

«Some good progress being made; we’ve changed a bit of things on the car to try and make it a bit more to my liking, and they seem to be working.

«But at the same time, I think I need more circuits, I need more different kinds of corners to have a proper feel for that.»

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes Sainz has shown he can now be a regular contender for race wins, and said it was important for Sainz to show the team can count on him as it fights Red Bull for the constructors’ title.

«It has been a very good race and I think race by race he’s gaining confidence, improving his driving and being faster and faster and he is happy, he’s more relaxed,» Binotto added.

«I’m pretty sure that he will prove in the next races now that he is a contender as well, for the win on a single race. I’m pretty happy the way he drove and it’s important for us as the Scuderia that we can count on him as well, to know that he can be very fast.»

Binotto singled out qualifying as an area for Sainz to improve, as he qualified behind Verstappen and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso on the second row.

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Apart from Montreal, where Leclerc took a grid penalty, Sainz had been beaten by his teammate in every qualifying session so far this year.

«To win with such a close fight with Red Bull and Max, you need to be perfect on the entire weekend,» Binotto added. «And if anything, maybe the qualifying was not perfect from Carlos. That cost him a bit maybe because being ahead or chasing certainly it’s a different matter.»

Valtteri Bottas nearly quit F1 after 2018 championship challenge with Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas almost walked away from Mercedes and Formula One at the end of 2018 after falling into a «dark place» at his failure to challenge Lewis Hamilton for the championship.

When Nico Rosberg retired after winning title in 2016, Bottas was the man drafted in to replace him, but he struggled to match Hamilton’s performances in his first two seasons and occasionally found himself in a support role as his teammate battled Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari.

Bottas has revealed he was on the verge of turning his back on the sport for good.

«At the end of 2018 I almost stopped. It was so close,» Bottas told Motorsport Magazine’s «My Big Break» podcast.

«Just because of the fact I couldn’t understand and take in the fact I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years. I put so much pressure on myself. Towards the end of ’18, especially when I started to have the support role, I really couldn’t take it, I really struggled. It was not fun.»

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When asked whether he meant retire from F1 altogether, not just leave Mercedes, Bottas said: «Yes, absolutely. I was done.

«The human mind is strange in a way, sometimes you go into dark places and you lose the joy on things. I lost the joy of F1 and racing in F1.

«I was almost angry to F1, it’s weird. I just needed some time off. Think things in a big picture and realised it’s a pretty cool sport and I still have great opportunities ahead of me.»

Bottas said the click to stay happened when he was walking in a Finnish forest in January 2019, just weeks before preseason testing for the new season would resume.

The decision to stay was vindicated. Bottas’ 2019 season is considered his best as Mercedes and it started with a win at the opening race, the Australian Grand Prix.

Bottas memorably marked the victory with the radio message, «to whom it may concern, f— you», which he admits in the podcast was as much aimed at himself and the negativity he had allowed to creep in as it was to any of the critics who said he should not be racing in what was F1’s most coveted race seat.

«Now when I look back at it was a great school for me, I learned a lot about myself, to give myself more of a leash, not to be too hard on myself. But learned so much about everything that I’m really glad it happened.

«Those kind of moments, I just want to tell people to always look at the big picture in life. If you feel a bit anxious in life, take a step back, there’s always so much more to get if you don’t give up.»