Quite a shocker, if we look back at how the situation was a few days ago. Carlos Sainz has been picked by Ferrari to partner Charles Leclerc on a 2-year deal with the option of spending a further season at Maranello. The Spaniard shared the top spot in Ferrari’s shortlist with Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is off to McLaren in 2021.
Why did the Australian not prevail in the contention?
Carlos Sainz certainly emerged as the real MVP of the 2019 season, earning himself the mighty nickname of ‘Smooth operator’ for his consistency and competitiveness showcased throughout the year at the wheel of the MCL34. The Madrid-born racer currently finds himself meeting the needs of Ferrari at the right time. In fact, it is no secret that the Italian teams is concerned about the consequences of the Coronavirus crisis, whose enormous impact will plague the upcoming seasons despite all precautionary measures and delays applied by the FIA and Liberty.
'Affording' a driver became priority over 'wanting to hire' a driver, as Helmut Marko stressed, when he reacted to Vettel's divorce from Ferrari.
The financial crisis deriving from the pandemic forced all F1 teams to rethink their spending habits and plans, hence pricey deals do not seem as convenient at the moment. Carlos Sainz holds a more competitive and alluring value for money compared to Daniel Ricciardo, whose multiple-race-winner status clearly enhanced his cost on the drivers’ market.
Despite the fact that Sainz possesses a less successful track record compared to Ricciardo, his job-hopping pattern over the years made him equally experienced and mature. This taught him how to handle pressure and intra-team relationships amid different circumstances, morphing him into a remarkable candidate to be put alongside Charles Leclerc, the ‘chosen one’ for Ferrari’s future.
Any chances of career suicide?
The risk is always there when a driver starts off with a number-two status at a top team. However, driving for Ferrari at the age of 25 stands for Sainz’s most valuable opportunity yet to shine, grow and prove his doubters wrong. Nothing prevents a driver from taking advantage of their teammate’s errors or showing utter abnegation towards their team. Therefore, Sainz’s career in case of a successful Ferrari stint will be far from over.