Carlos Sainz has admitted Ferrari’s decision to replace him with Lewis Hamilton in 2025 has left him with “not the most normal feeling” going into his final campaign with the Italian team.
A renewal of Sainz’s deal with Ferrari, which expires at the end of 2024, had appeared to be a formality until Hamilton’s blockbuster switch from Mercedes was suddenly confirmed last week.
The announcement came just a month before the start of the new season, with the opening race taking place in Bahrain on March 2.
“It’s certainly not the most normal feeling to start the season,” Sainz told Sky in Italy.
“But the moment I put on the helmet in Bahrain and take to the track, the only sensation I’ll feel will be the desire to go faster and faster – and also aiming for victory in the world championship.”
Sainz has impressed since joining Ferrari from McLaren in 2021, providing strong competition for team-mate Charles Leclerc as he claimed a first F1 race victory at Silverstone in 2022 before becoming the only non-Red Bull driver to win a Grand Prix in 2023.
“I’m fine, don’t worry. I’m not disappointed,” Sainz added. “Experiencing Ferrari from the inside I already knew several things and I prepared myself with the team in view of future changes.
“As I said, however, I don’t want to think about anything other than giving my all in the season that awaits me with Ferrari.
“I’m calm. We know that we have a very important season ahead of us. This will be my last year in Ferrari, so I want to do the best I can.”
The 29-year-old Spaniard is currently without a drive for next year, but there are several potential openings, most notably Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes and a possible vacancy at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen as Sergio Perez enters the final year of his contract.
“I am aware of how much I am worth as a driver,” Sainz said. “For this reason, when I look to the future, I am very calm.
“Good things will definitely come, but for now my goal is to give my best with Ferrari.
“In my career I have always made steps forward. Improving more every year. This has always been and always will be my philosophy, and it will be the same this year.
“In 2024, I will turn 30 but I feel younger and more motivated than ever.”
When is F1 pre-season testing?
Pre-season testing takes place from Wednesday February 21 to Friday February 23 at the Bahrain International Circuit with just three days for the teams to get prepared for the new season.
When is the first F1 race?
Just one week later, the opening race of the 2024 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29 to March 2.
Due to the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, the Bahrain and, seven days later, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on a Saturday.
This means practice one and two will take place on Thursdays, with final practice and qualifying on Fridays.
24 races in 2024! Watch every round of next season live on Sky Sports F1, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership
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