Carlos Sainz was interviewed on the Melbourne Walk prior to becoming the latest driver to place their hands in clay for the display at Albert Park entitled ‘The Hands of Fame’. It is fitting that Carlos Sainz Jr is now simply known as Carlos Sainz seeing how the interviewer referred to him as a senior driver on the grid.
‘Yes, senior driver at 24 years of age, it’s been incredible. Nowadays, with guys like Lando and George coming in at 19, 21, that is the age I debuted here maybe four or five years ago – this is incredible.’
Carlos Sainz was then asked his thoughts for the city of Melbourne and the race itself:
‘I love this race, I think, you know, the vibe that there is surrounding this first race of the year I think also it helps that the drivers we are fresh, we are obviously motivated, we are excited and the crowds are also you know – it creates a very nice atmosphere together with a great city, great weather. Coming from Europe this feels like Spain, like summer – it’s great.'
Sainz would then head off into the crowd and spend a significant amount of time with McLaren fans wearing orange wigs in the crowd. Sainz knew this group well as they were McLaren Plus and Papaya Plus members. You may be thinking - who?
McLaren are aware that they have struggled significantly and as such they wanted to ensure they reward their loyal fans. McLaren Plus is a free-to-join fan loyalty programme, bringing McLaren fans closer to the team with the most inclusive, rewarding and open-to-all fan programme on the F1 grid (or at least that is what it says on their website) Beyond this, you then find the fan group ‘Papaya Plus’. An exclusive fan club with only thirty members in the world. Eight of the group are present at the race they believe will show the turnaround of luck for McLaren - five of whom have travelled over from the United Kingdom especially for the race.
Carlos Sainz (and Lando Norris) certainly have the ability, the passion and the energy to tackle such a feat and the pre-season performance was certainly encouraging. So, maybe...just maybe...this new era of succes for McLaren could finally begin.