Sainz praises Ferrari 'character' in 2020, open to test in 2018 car

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Carlos Sainz has praised Ferrari's "character" after making strong performance gains in the second half of this season.

The Spaniard signed to replace Sebastian Vettel from next year all the way back in May, only to see the Italian team fall back down the field due to a combination of an underpowered engine and an underwhelming chassis.

A raft of upgrades from Sochi though has put Ferrari back in with a slim chance of finishing third in this year's Constructors' Championship, as they sit 24 points behind Racing Point.

And after having people question his decision to leave McLaren for Maranello, Sainz believes the Scuderia is now back on the right track

“It’s been a good few months for them. I think they’ve demonstrated that they’ve probably found a bit the issues that they had at the beginning of the year,” he explained in Bahrain on Thursday.

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“They probably were the ones especially not happy about it and they’ve shown good character turning a difficult season around.

“I’m encouraged to see that and I cannot wait to find out what and why they’ve changed, but there’s a few races left still with McLaren and plenty to do here still.”

Sainz's biggest problem next year though is the lack of testing before the start of the season with just three days planned in Bahrain.

“I can already tell you that one-day-and-a-half in an F1 car, these complex F1 cars, is not enough to prepare for an F1 season,” he confirmed.

“You don’t get to know the tricks of the car, or the steering wheel, even though you do a lot of simulator work. [You need] to get to know the crew, so one-day-and-a-half is very, very little and probably not enough.

“But it is what it is. We will have to adapt and we will need to find a way to make sure we are as prepared as possible within the limits [of the regulations].”

One solution would be to conduct tests in two-year-old cars, as Fernando Alonso has recently done with Renault.

“We will see, that’s my answer at the moment,” Sainz said of that idea.

“Once I leave McLaren to be a Ferrari driver, there would be a lot of thinking behind the scenes to make sure I arrive at the test and to the first race as prepared as possible.

“Obviously that [testing a 2018 car] could be an option, but I remain committed to McLaren and I don’t want to get distracted too much by what the future of January, February and March might bring.”

And speaking after those comments, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto did confirm a test was in the works.

"Consequently, we are trying to organise something for Carlos to make sure he can speed up somehow his integration with the team, with the engineers, with the car, with our way of working and procedures," he said

"Simulator will be important in that respect, where he works with this race team, engineers, technicians.

"We are also currently trying to organise January time eventually to run with an old car, just make sure again to get used to mainly our team and our procedures and our people."