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Carlos Sainz and his journey to a top team drive

After being announced as a Ferrari driver for the 2021 season, Carlos Sainz needed to get through a lot of things and dissapointments in order to get a top team drive, and in this piece, we're going to review his Formula 1 career.

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Carlos Sainz and his journey to a top team drive
Fuente imagen: Jerry André - MotorLat

Carlos Sainz has officially been announced as a Ferrari driver for the 2021 season as the Spaniard and the Italian team reached a 2-year deal. With this announcement, Sainz will be Charles Leclerc’s teammate and that has brought a little polemic, since these two drivers are noticeably young, and both want to win. Although, the 2020 season will be the third season in Formula 1 for Charles Leclerc, and it will be the sixth for Sainz. In this piece, we are going to review Carlos Sainz’s F1 career and what he needed to get through in order to have a seat in a top team, just like Ferrari.

In 2014, Carlos Sainz was announced to test with both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso in the Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone. After having great results while testing for those teams, Toro Rosso decided that he would drive for them in the 2015 season alongside Max Verstappen since Daniil Kvyat was promoted to the senior team. His first season in Formula 1 was not very remarkable as he finished in P15 in the drivers’ championship. It is worth mention that he finished in P9 in his debut during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix and in P7 in the United States Grand Prix, another big moment for him in his first season was the big crash he suffered during free practice session of the Russian Grand Prix, the crash was huge that he needed to spend a night in the hospital and was allowed to race the next day. Max Verstappen, his teammate, finished in P12 with 31 more points than the Spaniard.

The 2016 Formula 1 season was his second with Toro Rosso and with the Dutchman as his teammate. With 3 races already held and in 2 of them he finished in the points, the 2016 Russian Grand Prix was the next race. Carlos was not able to achieve points but a big moment in his career came up. Daniil Kvyat, who was driving for Red Bull Racing, had a terrible home GP as he collided twice with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and was imposed a drive though penalty. Helmut Marko did not doubt and decided that the Russian driver would no longer be a Red Bull driver as he would go back to Toro Rosso. This meant that a seat in a top team was available and either Max or Carlos would get it. In the time between the Russian and Spanish GP, the Austrian team decided that Max Verstappen will be the one who will partner Daniel Ricciardo in Red Bull Racing, making Carlos Sainz stay in Toro Rosso with Daniil Kvyat as his teammate. Carlos was not happy about it, but he could not do something to avoid that decision. In his home Grand Prix, he finished in P6 while Max took his first victory in his debut with Red Bull.  The rest of the season was bittersweet for Carlos as he finished in P12 in the drivers’ championship with a total of 46 points.

The 2017 season was a rollercoaster for him as he started off the season with a P7 in the inaugural race. The Chinese GP was another good one for him as he finished in P8, but a crash with Lance Stroll during the Bahrain GP made him retire, gaining no points. In Monaco, the Spaniard achieved his current season best with a P6 but had another crash with Romain Grosjean in Canada, producing a lot of damage and an eventual retirement. In Singapore, he finished in P4 after a chaotic race in which the two Ferraris and a Red Bull retired. Finally, the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix was his last race with Toro Rosso as Renault reached a deal with the Spanish driver.

On October the 7th 2017, it was announced that Carlos Sainz would replace Jolyon Palmer and he will be the teammate of Nico Hulkenberg at Renault. The 2017 United States Grand Prix was his first race with the French team and finished P7 outqualifying Hulkenberg. Mexico was a tough round for both Renaults and that race, and the following two, he did not score any points. In the 2017 drivers’ championship, Carlos finished in P9 with a total of 54 points.

2018 was the first complete season that he would spend with Renault. This season was a “quiet” one for him as he had an incredibly positive start, since he finished in the top 10 in 5 out of the first 6 races, but in each, Nico outqualified him. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was his best race of the season as he achieved a season high position of P5. His final position in the drivers’ championship was P10 with a total of 53 points, 3 places behind his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who finished as the best of the rest in P7.

After it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo would leave Red Bull Racing to join Renault, Carlos Sainz was looking for a team as Nico Hulkenberg would be Daniel’s teammate. For Carlos’ fortune, Fernando Alonso, who was Carlos’ hero, went to retire and left a seat in McLaren. Carlos took advantage of this situation and moved to the British team and race for them in the 2019 season, being teammate of rookie Lando Norris. After having a disappointing start of the season, since he had a mechanical problem in Australia, a crash with Max Verstappen in Bahrain and a huge crash with Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso and also his teammate in China, Sainz consistently finished in the top 10 and achieved a good amount of points. During the Brazilian Grand Prix, a mechanical issue made the Spaniard start from last position but in the race, he had an amazing pace and originally finished in P4, but a 5-position penalty to Lewis Hamilton after causing a collision with Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, made him earn his first Formula 1 podium. Carlos finished in P6 and thus consolidating the best of the rest in the drivers’ championship and he also beat a Red Bull.

Finally, today, May 14th, 2020, it was announced that Carlos Sainz will leave McLaren at the end of the 2020 season to join Scuderia Ferrari from the 2021 season onwards after achieving a 2-year deal, since Sebastian Vettel had announced a part ways between the German driver and the Italian team. This means that Charles Leclerc, who is 22 years old, and Carlos Sainz, who is 25 years old, will become the youngest Ferrari line-up of the last 50 years. Will Carlos achieve his first victory with the Italians?

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