Ferrari close to new F1 deal for Sainz

7:13 AM ET

Ferrari and Carlos Sainz are close to signing a contract extension to keep the Spaniard at the team beyond this season.

Sainz replaced Sebastian Vettel last year on a two-year deal and finished ahead of Charles Leclerc in their first season as teammates, claiming podium finishes in Monaco, Hungary, Russia and Abu Dhabi.

Sainz added a fifth Ferrari podium to his name on Sunday as he finished behind Leclerc in Ferrari’s Bahrain Grand Prix one-two.

Leclerc has a has a deal through to the end of 2024.

Ferrari expects to announce an extension for Sainz very soon.

“I think we found an agreement,” team boss Mattia Binotto said Sunday. “It’s only a matter to translate it into paper.”

On the contract question, Sainz said: “I think we are close. Very close. Very, very close. Very close. Extremely close. Nearly there.”

Sainz called the opening race of the season his most difficult at Ferrari so far, yet he still managed to qualify third and finish second, pointing to how long it took him to get a handle on the car earlier in the weekend.

“In FP1, FP2 and FP3 [the practice sessions] I was very far behind, the most far that I’ve been ever in Ferrari and that’s why even with a one-two that we scored I’m not entirely happy with the weekend,” Sainz said on Sunday evening.

“As a Ferrari driver it’s been my most difficult weekend and it just shows that I need to put my head down, understand this car, understand where is Charles making the difference with his driving.

“I need to improve if I want to fight for a win and I will put my head down and try to do some steps coming into Jeddah. Can I improve it from one weekend to another? I think I can improve it.”

The F1 season continues with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on March 27, live on ESPN at 11.55PM ET.

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