Carlos Sainz believes Ferrari are in a good position to fight McLaren for third place in the constructors’ standings this season and that the balance of power between the two teams will oscillate from track to track.

Ferrari made great progress with their new 2021 F1 car SF21 after finishing sixth in the constructors’ standings last year when they were held back by an uncompetitive power unit and a chassis that had too much drag, and the first two races of the new season showed that Ferrari can fight at the top of the midfield.

Leclerc qualified in fourth place in both Bahrain and Imola and although Sainz was slightly slower, Ferrari is the only team, along with McLaren, that won points in the first two races with both drivers.

“It’s very tight,” said Sainz, who drove for McLaren last two seasons and finished sixth in the drivers’ standings.

“It’s very hard to say. I think McLaren has its advantages and disadvantages, that should guarantee a good fight.”

“He seems to have done a really good job in Imola with Lando using the full potential of the car, he was quick all weekend, especially from Saturday onwards, and he had a good race.”

Norris had soft tyres in the last sting of the race, unlike Leclerc who was on medium, and he used that to attack him on the restart, which proved crucial in the fight for the podium.

2021 Emilia Romagna GP Norris leads Leclerc in the race Photo McLaren
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, during the 2021 Emilia Romagna GP (Photo: McLaren)

“They may have had an advantage this weekend and they had a small advantage in the last two weekends, but as soon as we do a really good job and come up with a track that might suit us, I think we can be ahead,” added Sainz.

“I felt pretty good in the car, and starting 11th and finishing fifth is pretty encouraging.”

“I have to keep working in this direction because I think it’s the right one.”

BATTLE FOR 3rd IN THE DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

3 Lando Norris 27 12 15
4 Charles Leclerc 20 8 12
5 Valtteri Bottas 16 16
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. 14 4 10
7 Daniel Ricciardo 14 6 8
8 Sergio Pérez 10 10
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