MELBOURNE, Australia -- Carlos Sainz says Ferrari is currently experiencing one of its toughest moments since he joined the team in 2021.
Sainz finished fourth and sixth at the opening two rounds of the season, while teammate Charles Leclerc retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix and was seventh in Saudi Arabia after a power unit-related grid penalty.
The poor start to the season leaves the team fourth in the championship standings, 61 points adrift of rivals Red Bull.
Both drivers have struggled for performance in races due to excessive tyre degradation and Sainz admits Ferrari is long way off the performance of Red Bull.
"For sure it's one of the toughest moments -- I'm not going to lie," Sainz said. "Since 2021, we've been on the way up, since I arrived 2021 was already a good step in the right direction -- we went from finishing P6 to finishing P3, [then] there was the regulation change that allowed us to do a massive step in 2022.
"And then, this year, we expected at least to find ourselves in a similar position but unfortunately there's a team named Red Bull that have killed the opposition coming up with a car that is clearly superior to everyone else.
"If you look at Ferrari, we are there with Mercedes, we are not too far from Aston Martin in race pace, but there's one team that have nailed it and this puts us a bit on the backfoot again. But, at least we know, I think we know, where we got it wrong.
"It's very clear to us where the weaknesses of our car lie, where the strengths of the Red Bull are. And now the whole team is pushing in the same direction, trying to cut that deficit."
Asked to explain the car's weaknesses in more detail, Sainz added: "Our analysis from the first few races is there's no fundamental issue with the car, it's just a very peaky car, very unpredictable car in the race, eats the tyres quite a lot, so we need to improve our package, just too peaky and we need to find a way to calm it down a bit and this is what makes the car difficult in the race.
"The good thing is everyone knows it - they know it at race track, the know it at Maranello, Ferrari has the manpower and capacity to react, if we all push in the same direction I'm convinced this team can turn it around. Not in a short period of time but in a medium period of time."
He said Red Bull holds an advantage in every performance metric and hinted that Ferrari might have to change its car concept to catch up.
"At the moment the Red Bull is superior everywhere - in quali, in race, straight line speed, superior in medium, low speed corners, they are superior with tyre management over the kerbs and bumps.
"It just shows that we clearly need to change something, go and change something very different from where we are now.
"Extremely good performance at the start of last season made us keep pushing with this concept and project of car but we realise now Red Bull have a clear advantage everywhere and we need to start looking to our right and left."