Ferrari are close to confirming a new deal for Carlos Sainz to ensure the Spaniard remains with the Maranello team for the foreseeable future. Mattia Binotto revealed that a verbal agreement is now in place, and all that is needed is for Sainz to put pen-to-paper.

The Italian marque made a stellar start to the 2022 Formula 1 season, as they recorded a 1-2 finish with Charles Leclerc leading home Sainz. The Spanish driver recorded his fifth podium since joining Ferrari in 2021, but labelled the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend his toughest with the team despite the podium finish.

Sainz replaced Sebastian Vettel on an initial two-year deal in 2021, and had an impressive debut campaign with the legendary red team. He finished the championship in fifth place ahead of Leclerc, and only behind the two Mercedes and Red Bull Racing drivers.

Ferrari team principal Binotto made it clear during the winter that Ferrari will be handing Sainz a new deal. Leclerc, who is leading the 2022 Drivers' championship after the first race, is tied to the team until 2024, and it is likely that Sainz will get a similar deal to ward off interest from other teams for the foreseeable future.

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc led home a Ferrari one-two to open the Formula One season in Bahrain OZAN KOSE/AFP

"I think we found an agreement," Binotto said after the Bahrain GP on Sunday, as quoted on ESPN. "It's only a matter to translate it into paper."

Sainz failed to mention an agreement was in place, but revealed that it was "very very close." The Spaniard has also been very clear that his preference is to remain with Ferrari in the long-term, especially since it is now clear that the Maranello team have a car capable of challenging for wins.

"I think we are close. Very close. Very, very close. Very close. Extremely close. Nearly there," Sainz said.

The Spaniard, however, is currently focused on getting a better understanding of the F1-75 after struggling with handling issues throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Sainz is keen to solve the issues that saw him struggle to match teammate Leclerc's pace, and was only handed second owing to Max Verstappen's late retirement.

"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," he added. "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."

Carlos Sainz
Hello, goodbye: McLaren's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz who will switch to Ferrari in 2021 William WEST/AFP