Carlos Sainz started the celebrations for his 28th birthday today in the paddock for the Dutch Grand Prix. The Spanish driver’s big day was celebrated by Team Principal Mattia Binotto and the rest of the team personnel, who surprised him with a three-layered cake to share with the whole team. Earlier it was Charles Leclerc who celebrated the occasion by hiding in Carlos' room and popping a tube of confetti upon his team-mate's arrival, surprising and congratulating him.
Confident. The Spaniard was one of the drivers featured in the FIA Press Conference, in which he declared he was confident ahead of the weekend. “After the race at Spa-Francorchamps it’s great to have the chance to get straight back onto the track here in the Netherlands,” he said. “This is a circuit with totally different characteristics and I expect that we will be back to being much closer to our main rivals from this year. We shouldn’t forget that for 13 races out of 14 we have been competitive and I can’t imagine that we will see at Zandvoort a similar performance gap to the one from Belgium.”
Positive start. Speaking with the journalists, Carlos continued to underline the good things the 2022 season has brought so far: “When you are at Ferrari everything is amplified: the affection of the tifosi when you win and their disappointment when you don’t succeed,” Carlos continued. “It’s the same for the criticisms of the people watching, because I can assure you that we are making fewer mistakes than others but we are always in the spotlight. When you are at Ferrari it’s like this, and we know it. But we must never forget the jump in performance that we have made compared to last year. We have come back to fighting for victories and we want to continue to improve, pushing all the way to the end of the season.”
The ideal present. Charles Leclerc is also expecting to see a different picture of how things stand compared to last weekend: “The Zandvoort track favours higher downforce so I think we will return to our usual level of competitiveness,” he said. “Everyone in the team has a big desire to do well and it’s also Carlos’ birthday so it would be great to celebrate that with a one-two – albeit with me ahead of him…” The Monegasque driver also spoke about the race at Spa-Francorchamps: “We haven’t yet finished analysing all the data we collected but if nothing else we have some interesting pointers, not least because the next race will be at Monza where it’s crucial for us to do well given that it’s our home race.”
Atmosphere. Charles said he isn’t worried about the endless legions of Dutch fans who will be in the grandstands to support Max Verstappen: “We have a good relationship with Max, there’s lots of respect, so I don’t expect to be booed – even if my target will be to ruin the party both for him and his fans… It’s clear that if they are wearing orange they aren’t here to cheer for Ferrari, but fair enough! Next week at Monza I expect that most of the spectators will be wearing red and supporting us,” concluded Charles.
Programme. Tomorrow the action gets going on the track with two sessions of free practice. The first hour starts at 1230 local time and the second hour is scheduled for 16:00.