The new Fernando Alonso?
Carlos Sainz Jr, son of rally driver Carlos Sainz, has been impressing since his days in karting. After victories in the Junior Monaco Kart Cup, among others, the Spaniard moved on to Formula BMW in 2010. That same year Sainz was accepted into Red Bull Racing's junior programme and all seems well. In 2011, he won the Northern European Formula Renault title and fell just short of winning the Eurocup that same year. What follows is just not the string of great results the Spaniard had hoped for.
Struggling and moving on
The switch to GP3 did Sainz no favours and in Formula 3 the Spaniard did not even get close to the title. It wasn't until he joined DAMS in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship that Carlos Sainz again got the chance to show his best side by taking the title. At the end of the 2014 season, it was also announced that the Red Bull junior would take his place in the Toro Rosso for the next Formula One season.
Max versus Carlos
With Max Verstappen alongside him, Sainz knew he had to bring out the best in himself. In his debut race in Melbourne the Spaniard immediately scored points for Toro Rosso and managed to do so a total of eight times that season. Nevertheless, Sainz finished a few places behind Verstappen in the championship, as the Dutchman twice managed to finish fourth in his Toro Rosso car.
The 2016 season started with the same driver duo, but Max Verstappen moved on to Red Bull Racing after four races. Daniil Kvyat transferred back to Scuderia Toro Rosso, where he and Sainz formed the new driver partnership. Alongside the Russian, Sainz once again proved himself and with 46 points he finished P12 in the championship. Two places higher than Kvyat, who had a podium finish with Red Bull to his name.
With Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz as their driver duo, Toro Rosso began the 2017 Formula One season unchanged. After Sainz finished fourth in Singapore, it was confirmed that the Spaniard would not return to the stable the following year. Indeed, starting with the American Grand Prix, Sainz would take his place at Renault as Nico Hulkenberg's teammate. All part of the big swap between Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Renault and Honda.
In exchange for the Spaniard, Toro Rosso ended their contract with engine supplier Renault and switched to Honda. This allowed Red Bull to see if it would be worthwhile to switch to the Japanese engine. Carlos Sainz was loaned out to Renault, but was still under contract to Red Bull.
In 2018 Carlos continued to drive for Renault, but there was constant uncertainty in the Spaniard's mind. Nico Hulkenberg had nothing to worry about and finished the season seventh. Three places behind and thirteen points poorer, Sainz had to fear for his spot. Only if another teammate for Pierre Gasly could be found at Toro Rosso could the Spaniard go his own way.
Sainz finds peace at McLaren
In 2019, Carlos Sainz finally found peace at McLaren. In the revived team led by Zak Brown, Andreas Seidl and James Key, Sainz felt like a fish in water. The 'Smooth Operator' finished sixth in the championship and, together with his British teammate Lando Norris, put McLaren back on the map.
In 2020, the upward trend continued. Along with teammate Norris, Sainz scored two podiums in 2020, and the Spaniard even managed to come close to victory in Italy. He eventually finished sixth in the championship, behind Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez. Sainz signed for Ferrari early in the 2020 silly season, not knowing what awaits him in the shortened season.
Sainz beats Leclerc in debut season at Ferrari
At Ferrari in 2021, Sainz faced the challenge of helping the Italian team rebuild after a poor 2020 season. The duel between Sainz and Charles Leclerc promised to be exciting, although many expressed more confidence in Leclerc than his new teammate.
Sainz surprised friend and foe in 2021 by being a match for Ferrari star Leclerc from the start. He took four podiums, and climbed up to fifth in the championship during the final weekend of the year.
Carlos Sainz in 2022
By beating Leclerc in his first season at Ferrari, Sainz has made a big impression. The Italian team is therefore not expected to start the 2022 Formula One season with a clear first and second driver. With the new rules and cars scheduled to be used, the two young Ferrari men could battle it out amongst themselves.