Following the shock resignation of design engineer David Sanchez last week, there has been intense speculation in Italian media that Ferrari are in a state of major unrest and could face a wave of further departures

Can Red Bull win every race this season?

It comes amid a difficult start to the new campaign for Ferrari after Charles Leclerc was forced into retirement with an engine failure while running third behind the dominant Red Bull cars in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

But Sainz, who finished fourth behind Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, dismissed suggestions that Ferrari was in “crisis”. 

“It is a lot better than the news makes it sound like,” Sainz said ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

“When you look back at this past week, and how many rumour there have been around, it seems like the place is not great at the moment. 

“But I can tell you it is so clear to us what we need to improve, how we need to do it and what the short, medium and long-term targets are. 

“I am actually very surprised how some people back at home have been trying to destabilise a bit the team. 

“Some call it a ‘crisis’ - we’ve only done one race. It is impossible to judge a team’s performance in this race. 

“We are the first ones that are not happy with how this first race went and we are the most bothered and affected by it. 

“We are going to try as much as possible to try and improve it. So I’m pretty calm about it and I see people at home committed, focussed and with a clear target in mind and I include myself in it.”

While Sainz admitted Ferrari were unhappy with the result in Bahrain, he stressed it is far too early to write off the season. 

“It was a tough first weekend for the team, but, in general, I think we got out of it with the maximum that we could have done,” he said. “Obviously, the penalty of Charles coming into here is not ideal, but it’s only the first race.

“If 2022 told us [something], it’s that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. So we are going to try and build up from there, especially now, keep the developments in and try and improve the car as much as possible from where we started.”

Leclerc ‘not worried’ about Ferrari reliability 

Leclerc has been hit with a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia following his retirement in the opening round. 

Despite already burning through his entire season’s allocation of energy store components, Leclerc insisted he is not concerned about a repeat of the problem. 

“The team has told me that they understand the issue, so no, the worry is not there,” he said. 

And Leclerc is hopeful the high-speed nature of the Jeddah circuit will play more to the strengths of Ferrari’s SF-23 car. 

“It might fit our car a little bit better, on paper,” he added. “But Red Bull have a flexible car, and they can change the car quite a lot from Bahrain to here and be extremely competitive too. 

“Our weakness in Bahrain was clearly the race pace and tyre degradation. We have been working a lot on that. I’m sure it will be a step forwards compared to Bahrain. 

“On the other hand, I’ve got a 10-place penalty so it will be difficult! But I’ll do absolutely everything to have a good start and come back as soon as possible.”