Sainz qualified sixth for his home race in Barcelona, two places and a tenth behind teammate Charles Leclerc.
But Ferrari struggled with medium tires at last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, and Sainz eventually gave up the points to finish frustrated 11th.
Moreover, he admits that Ferrari’s tire management problem is likely to resurface during the Spanish Grand Prix.
“We have a slight deficit in the race,” he said. “We know that in tire management we are not yet where we want to be.
“In Portimao we struggled a lot, and we saw again on Friday that we don’t have the best race pace and tire clearance.
“But at the same time, if we get a good start and execute the strategy well, I still think we can finish ahead of the others.
“I think that in part a little less direct on this track, it helps our relative competitiveness to be a little higher.
“But as you can see, the last sector is performing well, the car is performing well on the corners, and we actually had a pretty decent balance all weekend.”
Broadening his outlook for the race, Sainz explained that his understanding of the Ferrari package keeps growing, giving him more tools to fight within the midfield mix.
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I keep learning things and I keep implementing them when I get out on the right track,” Sainz added.
“In qualifying a lot of things worked for me that worked for me in Portimao and now I’m trying to see what we can do tomorrow. [Sunday], because tomorrow is our most complicated day, where we normally go back a bit.
“In the race we still have tire problems, and let’s see if tomorrow we can reduce that a bit. The start here as you know, just like qualifying, is very important, and we will try to go for it. before.”
Sainz gradually gained the upper hand over his new car, especially in qualifying, and was ultimately disappointed to be beaten by Leclerc when it mattered in Q3.
“To be honest, I was ahead in Q1 and Q2,” he said.
“And although I managed to save two sets of tires for Q3, none of the laps were what I wanted. I felt like today I could have been in the lead with a few good laps.
“But it wasn’t. I still have a lot of trouble in some types of turns that I can’t repeat, like in turns 10 and 7, struggling to feel the front.
“But what is positive is that again in Q1 I only did one round, and it shows that confidence is growing. And that I can actually be really quick when I nail the knees. “
Regarding his last round in Q3, he added: “It was messier with the traffic, the car in front was closer. I think I could have done a 1.17.4m in both the first and second rounds. So I haven’t been able to do that, and that’s something to look into.