user icon

Column: The challenge that faces Carlos Sainz at Ferrari

  • Published on 14 May 2020 12:21
  • comments 0
  • By: Fergal Walsh

After six years as a Formula 1 driver, Carlos Sainz has found himself signed to a race winning team – to Ferrari nonetheless, the most famous and historically-proud racing outfit of all.

For onlookers, the Ferrari driver situation has unfolded in just a matter of days, making the process an unusually quick one. Sebastian Vettel will leave the team, taking with him any uncertainty as to who Ferrari’s number one driver will be going forward.

Sainz has come aboard the Maranello ship and will partner Leclerc, who is tied down to a long-term deal until at least the end of the 2024 campaign.

The career path for Sainz is one that many have dreamed of. Having built up plenty of experience in F1, but still having the essence of youth on his side, the Spaniard has time to fulfil his fantasy of becoming a world champion in F1.

To achieve that, he must overcome the test of Leclerc, who looks to be on a momentum-filled road to success. Following successive GP3 and Formula 2 championships, an impressive year at Sauber in 2018 saw him climb to Ferrari last year, where he got his first win out of the way, and calmed any doubts over his qualifying pace.

With Leclerc being Ferrari’s homegrown talent, the focus going forward will almost certainly be on the Monegasque racer – something that Sainz will have to contend with as part of his new team.

It is not the first time that Sainz has had to partner a highly acclaimed driver. From 2015 to the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, he raced alongside Max Verstappen. Verstappen may have moulded himself into a stronger driver now compared to his Toro Rosso days, however the raw speed didn’t go unnoticed during his opening races in the sport.

Following his move to Renault, he drove alongside Nico Hulkenberg, who at the time was Renault’s clear lead driver. Although it’s generally accepted that Hulkenberg had a stronger season, Sainz’s performances grasped the attention of McLaren.

It was the Woking-based team that decided Sainz was the driver worthy of replacing Fernando Alonso in F1, and with his new teammate in Lando Norris being a rookie, expectations were high as McLaren looked to bounce back from a difficult 2018 campaign.

Sainz’s consistent performances in an ever-improving MCL34 car saw him finish sixth in the drivers’ championship last year, helped by his first ever F1 podium in Brazil.

The season only boosted his reputation further and now he takes arguably the biggest step of his career as he leaps into a race seat that has been occupied by some of the greatest drivers the sport has ever seen.

Fighting at the front brings with it a whole new shade of spotlight – Pierre Gasly showed in 2019 that it can be too much, but fortunately for him, he had a Toro Rosso cushion to fall onto following his demotion from Red Bull.

Sainz will undoubtedly be targeting race wins and podiums from the get-go and should a situation arise where he and Leclerc are fighting it out, will Ferrari intervene? Will they move to calm relations and signal their support for a clear number one driver?

He has the experience over Leclerc, at least in F1 overall, but perhaps not at Ferrari and fighting at the front of the grid. And does he have the speed and the consistency needed to be considered one of the best in the sport? The drought of championships that Ferrari is currently enduring gets more painful for the Tifosi as each year slips by. They are thirsty for success - as are the youngsters of Leclerc and Sainz.

With the deal being two years, it will ease some pressure on Sainz's shoulders – little as that lift may be, when you’re driving for Ferrari.

Replies (0)

Login to reply

BE Grand Prix of Belgium

Local time 

BE Grand Prix of Belgium

Local time 

Related news

World Championship standings 2021

Show full world champion standings

Test calendar

Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing

See full test schedule

Give your opinion!

Will Bottas challenge Hamilton for the world championship in 2020?

Driver profile

  • Team Ferrari
  • Points 440
  • Podiums 3
  • Grand Prix 129
  • Country Spain
  • Date of b. Sep 1 1994 (26)
  • Place of b. Madrid, Spain
  • Weight 66 kg
  • Length 1.78 m
Show full profile

Team profile

Show full profile

Formula 1 Calendar - 2021

Date
Grand Prix
Circuit
-
Bahrain
26 - Mar 28
Bahrain
16 - Apr 18
Italy
7 - May 9
Spain
20 - May 23
Monaco
4 - Jun 6
Azerbaijan
18 - Jun 20
France
25 - Jun 27
Austria
2 - Jul 4
Austria
16 - Jul 18
United Kingdom
30 - Aug 1
Hungary
27 - Aug 29
Belgium
3 - Sep 5
Netherlands
10 - Sep 12
Italy
24 - Sep 26
Russian
1 - Oct 3
Singapore
8 - Oct 10
Japan
22 - Oct 24
United States of America
29 - Oct 31
Mexico
5 - Nov 7
Brazil
19 - Nov 21
Australia
3 - Dec 5
Saudi Arabia
10 - Dec 12
United Arab Emirates
See full schedule

Formula 1 Calendar - 2021

Date
Grand Prix & Circuit
26 - Mar 28
16 - Apr 18
7 - May 9
20 - May 23
Monaco Monte Carlo
4 - Jun 6
Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
18 - Jun 20
France Paul Ricard
25 - Jun 27
Austria Red Bull Ring
2 - Jul 4
Austria Red Bull Ring
16 - Jul 18
United Kingdom Silverstone
30 - Aug 1
Hungary Hungaroring
27 - Aug 29
3 - Sep 5
Netherlands Circuit Zandvoort
10 - Sep 12
Italy Monza
24 - Sep 26
Russian Sochi Autodrom
1 - Oct 3
8 - Oct 10
22 - Oct 24
United States of America Circuit of the Americas
29 - Oct 31
5 - Nov 7
Brazil Interlagos
19 - Nov 21
Australia Albert Park
3 - Dec 5
Saudi Arabia Jeddah Street Circuit
10 - Dec 12
United Arab Emirates Yas Marina Circuit
See full schedule
show sidebar