Sainz to Ferrari: From an overshadowed debut to the breakthrough at McLaren

14-05-2020 11:34
by Thierry Bakker
F1 News
Sainz to Ferrari: From an overshadowed debut to the breakthrough at McLaren

Carlos Sainz makes the switch to Ferrari in 2021, making his way to the top after a long route full of uncertainties. From ''just not good enough for Red Bull Racing'', to finally landing a seat at the Scuderia Ferrari in Maranello.

The fight against Verstappen

Sainz makes his debut in Formula 1 in 2015 when he and Max Verstappen will be able to compete in that year's Toro Rosso. While young rookie Verstappen only has a few Formula 3 victories to his name, Sainz has already won Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

In his first year at Toro Rosso Sainz immediately shows his talent. He knows how to perform well every week, without huge drops or very high peaks. That's where Verstappen makes all the difference, because he puts himself in the spotlight with two fourth places at the top of Red Bull. When Daniil Kvyat disappoints the main team, it's not the experienced Sainz, but Verstappen who makes the immediate transition to the top.

Sainz doesn't get stuck in his disappointment and crushes Kvyat back at Toro Rosso. If Pierre Gasly is allowed to invade in 2017, the Frenchman just wasn't a match for Sainz either, who will have the chance to leave for Renault on a rental basis towards the end of 2017. Sainz will race four races in 2017 and in 2018 he will race in front of the French race stable for the entire season.

Downhill with Renault

At Renault, Sainz is having a harder time. His bizarre contract situation is affecting him when Daniel Ricciardo is announced as a new Renault driver, he will be teamless at the end of the season. Red Bull Racing doesn't need Sainz anymore, but suddenly there is hope. Fernando Alonso decides to (temporarily) quit F1 and McLaren suddenly has a free seat.

Sainz is not the first choice of McLaren, they want Ricciardo. Yet Sainz impresses in 2019. Rookie Lando Norris occasionally out qualifies Sainz, but on Sunday the Spaniard is more consistent than anyone else. He finishes in the championship ahead of Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon, who had a better car for six months with a Red Bull.

His breakthrough at McLaren

2019 therefore counts as the breakthrough for Sainz, who finally seems to prove Red Bull Racing and Renault wrong. The confidence of a multi-year contract at McLaren pays off and Sainz feels at ease. Negotiations for a longer stay were already underway, but Sainz doesn't want to miss the chance of a seat at Ferrari and for good reason.

Sainz is the ideal driver for Ferrari. He knows how to perform consistently over a whole season and can act as a great team mate alongside Charles Leclerc. Leclerc will be the leader, but you shouldn't be surprised if Sainz can get very close. In that respect, it is a good test for both drivers and the management of Ferrari.

For Sainz, it is a crowning achievement for his hard work over the years. He has demonstrated to several drivers that he doesn't have to be inferior to the top drivers, but it remains to be seen whether he really has the potential to become world champion. At Ferrari he at least gets the chance to increase his chances of some verry good results.

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