After a glittering career in the lower ranks, Carlos Sainz delivered when he joined Formula 1 in 2015. After three years with Toro Rosso and one full season with Renault, Sainz became McLaren’s new leading Spaniard in 2019. In 2022, Sainz moved to Ferrari.
|Full Name||Carlos Sainz Vázquez de Castro|
|Date of Birth||1st September 1994|
|First Race||2015 Australian Grand Prix|
It was perhaps inevitable that Carlos Sainz, son of the rallying legend, would end up pursuing a career in motorsport. Born in Madrid in 1994, Sainz immediately impressed when he started competing in karting championships aged fourteen. He won the Asia-Pacific KF3 title in 2008 before taking the prestigious Junior Monaco Kart Cup the following year and finishing runner-up in the European KF3 Championship.
After joining the Red Bull junior team, Sainz stepped up to single-seaters in 2010, and immediately impressed, finishing second on his very first appearance in European Formula BMW. He went on to win a race on the second day of the meeting. Even Helmut Marko was impressed with the driver he’d secured onto his books, and the Spaniard raced to fourth overall by the end of the championship. A move to Formula Renault 2.0 followed in 2011, where he beat Daniil Kvyat to the Northern European Cup crown with 26 podiums from 34 races. Formula Three was the next step for Sainz, and he performed admirably, ending the year fifth with five race wins.
A seventh place at the Macau Grand Prix in 2012 was another admirable performance, before Sainz moved onto the F1 support bill in 2013 with a seat at Arden in the GP3 series, alongside his old rival Kvyat. It was Kvyat who took the title, while Sainz’s performance was not as strong. He scored a pole, but was win-less, finishing tenth in the overall standings. Carlos also had some outings in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2013, and stepped into the series full time for 2014. With the DAMS team he took seven wins and won the title ahead of Pierre Gasly and Roberto Mehri.
Sainz had made his first F1 outing with tests for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2013, and following another successful outing post-season in 2014, Sainz was announced as a Toro Rosso driver for 2015. Alongside Max Verstappen, Sainz showed his speed and was as impressive as his much talked about team-mate. The Spaniard was lucky to emerge without injury following a huge crash in practice for the Russian Grand Prix, but that was one of few negatives in a solid maiden year. He was re-united with Kvyat in 2016 following Verstappen’s promotion to the main Red Bull team, and he out-scored the Russian by 38 points.
It was a similar story for Sainz in 2017 as he scored the majority of Toro Rosso’s points, with brilliant displays in changeable weather conditions in Shanghai and Singapore. A fourth place finish in Singapore is the best result of his career to date. After persistent rumours, Sainz finally moved to Renault ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix, where he was on par with Nico Hulkenberg from his first weekend at the team. There were a few moments of silliness from Sainz in 2017, though. A race ending crash with Lance Stroll at the pit exit in Bahrain was deemed to be his fault, while his last outing with Toro Rosso ended in the gravel on the first lap.
Sainz started 2018 by being out-qualified and out-raced by team-mate Hulkenberg, but while the German crashed out at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sainz took the team’s equal-best finish of the season with fifth place. Sainz was a frequent points scorer in 2018, with the British Grand Prix, where he was taken out by Romain Grosjean, and the Mexican Grand Prix, where he was out with battery issues, being the only times he failed to finish. While Sainz was a little behind Hulkenberg on pure pace, and trailed him in the final points tally, he nevertheless compared well to one of the most respected midfielders.
It seemed inevitable that Sainz would lose his place at Renault after just one season, despite it not being a reflection of his performances, and his fate was confirmed in August 2018, as the team announced the signing of Daniel Ricciardo for the following season. Sainz remains a member of the Renault family in 2019 as he headed to the Renault-powered McLaren team, where he was partnered with British rookie Lando Norris.
SAINZ IN 2019
Carlos Sainz was, for some, the star of the 2019 season. After passing from Toro Rosso to Renault to McLaren in the space of just over a year, it feels that the Spaniard has found a more permanent home at the latter team. Despite being out-qualified by his rookie team-mate over the course of the year (in the closest qualifying battle of any team) the Spaniard emerged as a team leader, securing 66% of McLaren’s points.
After fending off Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon for an unlikely sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, Sainz beat his previous best points tally from 2017 by 42 points. He scored on thirteen occasions over the course of the year, with his single point in Abu Dhabi – a result of overtaking Nico Hulkenberg on the final lap – being the most important, and securing him the sixth place. Sainz’s rise through the championship order is all the more impressive, given that he failed to score in any of the first three races of the year and completed the fourth-fewest laps of any driver during the season.
The biggest points haul of his career to date came at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where he finished in the top three following a post-race penalty for Lewis Hamilton. Although he wasn’t present for the podium celebrations, he and the team emerged on the rostrum later in the evening to celebrate McLaren’s first podium in over five years. In the last eleven races, Sainz qualified best of the rest eight times and finished in the top six five times. Read more: Carlos Sainz’s 2019 F1 Season In Statistics.
SAINZ IN 2020
More often than not, Carlos Sainz got the best out of McLaren’s MCL35 in 2020. Sainz qualified in the top three twice in 2020, at the Styrian and Italian Grands Prix. It was at the latter that the Spaniard would record the best race result of his career to date with second place, narrowly missing out on the win. Sainz finished in the top five on six occasions throughout the year and ended the season with seven consecutive top seven finishes.
Technically, Lando Norris won the qualifying battle at McLaren for a second year running, though if you take out the Bahrain Grand Prix – where Sainz was unable to set a representative time in Q2 – the pair ended the year level on eight out-qualifications apiece. Only seventeen thousandths separated them on average per qualifying sector. The pair were close on points too, with Sainz scoring a fraction more but also suffering more bad luck than his team-mate. Pit stop problems at the Styrian Grand Prix curtailed his afternoon, a late race puncture robbed him of a fourth place (or even better) result at the British Grand Prix and he failed to even start the Belgian Grand Prix. Read more: Carlos Sainz’s 2020 F1 Season In Statistics.
Sainz moves on from McLaren in 2021, having announced his intention to join Ferrari before the delayed 2020 season began. Questions remain whether that was the right choice, given McLaren’s upward trajectory and Ferrari’s recent downturn in pace.
CARLOS SAINZ’S F1 RECORD
|Year||Team||Final Position||Points Scored||Wins||Poles||Podiums|
|2017||Toro Rosso / Renault||9th||54||0||0||0|