Carlos Sainz says Red Bull has “killed the opposition” with the current dominance it is enjoying at the top in Formula 1.

Max Verstappen’s victory in Austria on Sunday continued Red Bull’s unbeaten run in 2023 and has brought the side to within one of equalling the all-time record for the most consecutive wins in F1 history (11).

The reigning World Champions have now also won 19 of the previous 20 races, dating back to last year’s French Grand Prix in July.

The race weekend at the Red Bull Ring marked one year since a Ferrari driver last stood on the top step of the podium and Sainz contends the Scuderia is still recovering from the race day woes it began to encounter across the second half of 2022.

However, the Spanish driver underlines that Ferrari is not the only team to be hampered by the huge strides Red Bull has made in this particular cycle of technical regulations.

It’s been a long year for sure,” Sainz lamented when reflecting on Ferrari’s current win drought. “And I think from Austria last year until now, it’s been tough.

“We had a bit of a dip in form towards the end of last year in race pace and then we carried that, let’s say, difficult moment into this year and we are in exactly the turning point, or in the point of where we are trying to turn things around to make the car competitive again and to try and win again.

“It’s not going to be easy because there’s another team called Red Bull that have killed everyone, killed the opposition in a way, no?

“And we’re not the only ones suffering it. There’s teams also, like Mercedes, that have suffered their good job, and it’s down to us now to revert it and to try our best to win again.”

Ferrari introduced another extensive upgrade package in Austria and the improvements saw the Italian squad establish itself as Red Bull’s nearest challengers.

But despite Charles Leclerc leading the race for 10 laps midway through proceedings, Verstappen was able to swiftly overhaul the Ferrari and open up a 24-second advantage before pitting to pursue the fastest lap.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23. 02.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Race Day.

Sainz, though, claimed ahead of the Austrian GP weekend it would be unrealistic to expect Ferrari to close the massive deficit it upholds to Red Bull with a single upgrade.

“There is a big gap between the Red Bull and us and to think that we’re going to cut the gap with one upgrade, I think would be naïve and not realistic,” he addressed.

“Is the upgrade going to help our weaknesses and hopefully make us come closer? Yes. But at the same time, if Red Bull brings an upgrade to Austria, or anytime soon, it also means that your upgrade is less big. So, it’s all relative in F1.

“I do hope that this upgrade is opening, a bit like we saw in Barcelona, a bit of a window of development and new opportunities and new ways to set up the car that help us move in the right direction.

“But I think it would be a bit optimistic, let’s say, to think that suddenly we’re going to be level par with Red Bull, with how competitive they are.”

While Leclerc secured Ferrari’s best result of the year with second, Sainz was made to rue a Virtual Safety Car period ending when he was exiting the pit lane on Lap 14.

Although he was able to recover the two lost places from both Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, Sainz would eventually lose out on a podium place to the secondary Red Bull of Sergio Perez, forced to recover from another disappointing qualifying display.

Sainz, who scored third in the Sprint race on Saturday, is still searching for his first top-three finish on a Sunday and concedes that he is starting to become “frustrated”.

“It’s a few races where I’ve had a lot of pace in the car, a lot of race pace,” he rued. “And yeah, I wish I could maximise it a bit more.

“I’m very quick this year, especially in the race I feel like I’ve done a big step forward, if you look at my pace yesterday and today. P4 I guess is not bad, but today P2 or P3 was on the cards.”

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