Suzuka: Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said Thursday he was proud of ending Red Bull’s unbeaten streak but “wouldn’t be surprised” if they do not lose again this season.
Sainz topped the podium at last week’s Singapore Grand Prix to end Red Bull’s hopes of an undefeated Formula One season, with runaway championship leader Max Verstappen finishing fifth and Sergio Perez eighth.
The Red Bulls will start as heavy favourites to restore normal order at this week’s Japanese Grand Prix and could clinch the constructors’ championship at Suzuka.
Sainz said beating them in Singapore “gives me a lot of pride” but he did not pin his hopes on a repeat performance with seven races of the season remaining.
“It seemed almost like it was going to be impossible to beat them,” said the Spaniard.
“To go to Singapore and do it in the way we did it is a great feeling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they win the rest of their races.”
Sainz is currently enjoying a run of form, finishing third at the Italian Grand Prix at the start of the month before winning in Singapore, and claiming pole in both races.
He is fifth in the drivers’ standings, 28 points behind Spanish compatriot Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin.
“It’s always important to keep your head down and try to keep the momentum going, because it’s always difficult to find that momentum in such a competitive environment,” said Sainz.
“Singapore is over. We focus on Suzuka.”
Ferrari are currently third in the constructors’ standings, 24 points behind Mercedes.
Sainz said he and teammate Charles Leclerc have been dealing with a “tricky” car and were “still trying to find the right set-up”.
“The only thing I can say is that we’ve been working hard to try to find the sweet spot,” said Sainz.
“Probably we still haven’t found it yet and that’s why every week I try something different in the car to try to challenge myself, the car and the team.”
Back to winning ways
Mercedes’s George Russell expects Red Bull to get “back to their winning ways” after their bid for an unbeaten season ended in Singapore.
Russell had his own heartbreak in Singapore, crashing on the last lap as he attempted a late victory charge on fresher tyres.
The British driver expects Red Bull to come back strongly in Japan and said he believes their troubles in Singapore were “purely a one-off”.
“I expect them to be back to their winning ways, or at least to be back to the top of the field,” said Russell.
“If they’re not, that would be a lot of question marks being raised if they have another weekend like last week — but I don’t expect it.”
Russell said it had taken him “24 to 36 hours” to get over the disappointment of crashing on the final lap in Singapore, as he hunted down leaders Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
But he said he would learn from the experience and was “not going to let a mistake of 2cm cloud my whole weekend”.
“Throughout everybody’s career you have ups and you have downs,” Russell said.
“I’m very thankful for having some very difficult situations in the past to bounce back from — it helped me deal with these situations better.”