The Italian team took the covers off its SF-23 challenger at its Fiorano track on Tuesday as part of a launch occasion that was open to invited media and a grandstand full of Ferrari fans.
After a short series of interviews with Sainz, his teammate Charles Leclerc and new team principal Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari completed the SF-23’s initial laps – with Leclerc driving for two tours before handing over to Sainz.
Although the runs were very short and had to be completed on demonstration Pirelli tyres with the drivers unable to fully push, such a move was still a risk to conduct in public given the early stages of preparations for the coming campaign and the possibility of an early reliability issue – not uncommon on F1 cars not long built – occurring.
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But it stood at odds with 2023 launch events conducted by other F1 squads – some of which, such as Red Bull’s season launch, did not even feature 2023 cars on display.
“I think it was honestly amazing,” Sainz said of his first experience of the SF-23.
“And I think as Ferrari, today I’m going to allow myself to give a bit of praise to the team and what they organised because I think [it] factor in their influence today.
“I think Formula 1 needs these kinds of events nowadays, these kind of presentations where you bring all the media, to bring the fans, to bring our partners, to bring the engineers that are involved in the project, you bring the mechanics that have been working on the car for the last couple of months – you join them all together and you do a proper presentation with the car running.
“Where you see the actual Formula 1 car running without too much privacy, [all] enjoying the nature of Formula 1.
“And I think we were brave as a team to do it because it’s the first ever installation lap that we did with that car and it can always go bad.
“But we took the risk just to do something a bit different and I hope that you guys enjoyed it – because I definitely did and it was a very good day for the team, for Ferrari and F1.»
When asked if he felt it had been a positive off-season for Ferrari after its ultimately disappointing 2022 campaign, Sainz again moved to praise its extensive public launch.
“Yeah, the first thing that I’m positive about is everything that we did today, nothing went wrong, everything went perfect,” he explained.
“It’s actually, as I said before, relatively high risk to put a brand new F1 car on track in front of so many people and to actually get to enjoy it without any single problem on track – normally in these installation laps there’s always different issues here and there and today the car was running smoothly.
“I could actually push a bit on it and lean a bit in the car in the corners and feel the first things. And we’ve already given some feedback to the engineers to work on for tomorrow.
“Tomorrow we have the famous 100km [filming day permitted in F1’s rules] where will continue to do the build up to Bahrain.
“Obviously, until Bahrain we will not know how the car is performing and how the car is handling, but at least we’ve already covered some nice steps in the right direction.”