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Sainz among top drivers: 'He was as fast as Verstappen'

Sainz among top drivers: 'He was as fast as Verstappen'

31 January - 10:57 Last update: 13:47

Carlos Sainz performed particularly well in his first year at Ferrari, but that came as no surprise to Helmut Marko. According to the Austrian, Sainz was particularly unlucky to make his debut in Formula 1 alongside Max Verstappen.

The battle with Verstappen

Sainz is not often mentioned when the talents for the future are lined up, but looking at his achievements over the past few seasons, perhaps he should be. He held his own against Verstappen at Toro Rosso, won the duel against Lando Norris at McLaren and scored more points than Charles Leclerc in his debut year for Ferrari in 2021.

"Sainz was unlucky to debut at the same time as Verstappen. That he was immediately fast and good, we already saw in the first tests at Silverstone. He was as fast as Verstappen. Sainz certainly belongs among the top drivers. He has proven that," Marko said in conversation with Autorevue.

The Spaniard drove three seasons for Toro Rosso, but he never got a chance at Red Bull Racing. At the end of his third season, he was even loaned out to Renault and when that partnership was continued after four races in 2017 and a full season in 2018, a good career seemed to come to a quick end.

Revival at McLaren

However, Sainz got a chance at McLaren, where he surprised many. He took the lead of the Woking-based team and, especially in the races, was much stronger than the highly rated Norris. It earned him a move to Ferrari, where he impressed again in 2021 by scoring more points than Leclerc. It earned him compliments from Marko.

''In my opinion, he left Leclerc disillusioned. In terms of speed, Sainz was just there. Leclerc had a lot of bad luck, but at McLaren they had seen earlier that Norris was the one who came out best of the youngsters. Also with him Sainz absolutely came along'', Marko concluded by praising his former pupil.

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