New Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz says he expects the 2021 season to be “a transition year” for the team as it looks to recover from a dreadful 2020 campaign. 

The Italian outfit endured a woeful 2020 season in which it struggled for competitiveness all year and slumped to sixth place in the constructors’ championship. Ferrari CEO John Elkann recently conceded the team must “restart with humility” as it looks to recover from its worst F1 season in 40 years in 2021.

An all-new power unit should help improve Ferrari’s fortunes but Sainz - who signed a two-year deal to replace outgoing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari before the 2020 season had even started - is aware that progress will be difficult until sweeping regulation changes come into effect in 2022. 

SEE ALSO: Emulating F1 hero Alonso, Sainz is ready to make his own mark at Ferrari

“I already see some positive signs from Ferrari and improvements and obviously there is a new engine coming which should again improve the situation a bit,” the Spaniard told select media, including Crash.net, in an interview at the end of 2020.

"But I think 2021 is a difficult year for everyone. We all know Mercedes is going to keep dominating the sport and without a big regulation change there’s a big chance that will continue in 2021.

“So, for me, I think Ferrari and pretty much everyone who is not Mercedes should focus more on 2022 and try to make that the biggest change in the competitiveness of the team. 

“I’m already confident that Ferrari know that and are going to try and do that and that 2021 is going to be a transition year. 

“I will be trying to build good relationships and getting to know the car race by race and then in 2022 we start with a clean sheet of paper and new regulations and it’s going to be more important also.

“I feel ready for whatever comes. I’ve always said my ultimate goal in Formula 1 is to try to be world champion one day, and I'm ready to take that next step into Ferrari and see how it goes. I feel 100% ready.”

After a season to forget, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has insisted that a return to the top three in the championship is the “minimum objective” for the Scuderia in 2021. 

Ferrari successfully fired up its 2021 car - the SF21 - on Friday morning, before its unveiling on 10 March, two days before pre-season testing. 

 

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