Carlos Sainz in profile | The Spaniard who claimed Ferrari's first podium of 2021

26-05-2021 12:00 | Updated: 26-05-2021 12:30
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Carlos Sainz in profile | The Spaniard who claimed Ferrari's first podium of 2021

Multiple drivers made the switch to different teams ahead of the 2021 season but no other has made an impression yet quite like Carlos Sainz has at Ferrari. The Spaniard’s second place in Monaco on the weekend was his first podium for the Prancing Horses, but he currently sits only two points behind his teammate Charles Leclerc.

Having success at McLaren was just a starting point for the 26-year-old and he already seems to be forming a good partnership with Leclerc, although an unsteady one at certain points. Leclerc is still yet to find himself on the podium this season, although it seemed all but done after he found himself on provisional pole on Saturday, before the crash that red-flagged the session occurred.

Sainz is now in his seventh season in Formula One and has three podiums to his name, with more clearly on the way, but how has he got to his seat in Ferrari?

How did his career start?

Carlos Sainz started his karting career in 2006 and hit the scene properly in 2008 when he claimed his first major victory when he won the Asia-Pacific KF3 title. Before this, he had small success in 2006 with a second-place finish in the Copa Campeones Trophy and a third-place finish whilst racing in the Torneo Industrie open.

However, his most famous karting success came a year after his Asia-Pacific KF3 title, when he was victorious in the prestigious Junior Monaco Kart cup in 2009. He beat current F1 and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly and current Formula E driver and Mercedes/McLaren test driver Nyck De Vries, on his way to claim victory. He joins the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica to win the cup and had the title taken off him in 2010 by his current teammate Charles Leclerc.

Sainz never finished first overall in karting again but had a second-place finish in the Karting European Championship, finishing behind only De Vries. He did, once again, finish ahead of Gasly who could only best a 23rd place finish and also beat current Alpine reserve driver Daniil Kvyat.

Making his single-seater debut in 2010 and being a part of the Red Bull junior programme was just the start for the Spaniard. He made his debut in Formula BMW Europe and Pacific series and despite only being a guest driver in the latter, flew ahead of the rest of the field. A victory, second-place and fourth-place finish in three of the first four races caught the eye of Helmut Marko and Sainz was promoted to the Red Bull Junior Team. He then went on to win one more race and claim four more podiums to end the series.

The next victory came in 2011 as Sainz went on to win the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship, claiming 10 victories and standing on the podium seven more times. The next two seasons were less victorious for him as he was only able to record six victories across Formula 3, GP3 and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

However in his final season before F1, he made the switch to DAMS to compete in his second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and it was the final success of his junior career. Seven victories and seven podiums secured him the victory over Gasly in second and Roberto Mehri in third. He also beat current F1 drivers Nicholas Latifi and Esteban Ocon who were only able to finish 20th and 23rd respectively.

Sainz’s Formula 1 career:

Toro Rosso was the first stop for the 26-year-old in his Formula 1 career and was paired with, the current championship leader, Max Verstappen. His rookie season, like many, was a major learning curve as the Spaniard finished 15th overall in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring only 18 points. The following year, Sainz was able to finish in the top 10 three more times, with sixth-place finishes in Spain, America and Brazil being the highlight. He finished his second season on 46 points but was 12th overall, despite scoring 28 more points.

Heading into his third year, Sainz knew that if he continued to perform the points finishes would come his way and what actually came his way; an end-season switch to Renault. He was able to finish fourth in Singapore, a new career-best, and on the third race after at the Circuit of the America’s Sainz was sporting new colours. His consistent points-scoring finishes at Toro Rosso secured him a ninth-place finish in the Drivers’ Championship, his best in his three-year tenure in F1, up to that point.

Only a single season at Renault was in store, as McLaren came calling the following year, but he scored points in 13 of the 21 races that season for the French team. A fifth-place finish in Azerbaijan was his highest but he did however finish on 53 points, one less than the season prior, and 16 points down on his Renault teammate Niko Hulkenberg.

Once again, Sainz had another new driving pairing to adapt to when he made the switch to McLaren, this time being with Lando Norris. The pair drove together for both of the Spaniard’s seasons with the British team and were able to win the midfield battle last season. At his time with McLaren, he finished with 201 total points and two sixth-place finishes in a row in the Drivers’ Championship. A third-place finish in Brazil in 2019 and second-place in Imola in 2020 were the first two podiums that Sainz claimed in his career and both came in his time at McLaren.

Now, he takes on a new adventure with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari and has had a sublime start. In his five races with The Prancing Horse, he’s only missed out on a points finish once and has most recently finished second, behind only Max Verstappen, in the Monaco Grand Prix, claiming the Italian team's first podium of the season. He also finished ahead of his good friend and former teammate Norris, who finished in third. Sainz sits on 38 points so far, only two behind Leclerc, as they look to fight with McLaren for third place in the Constructors’ Championship. Will they be able to overcome Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren?

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