If the members of the paddock are asked about the best drivers on the grid , the answers are very likely to be similar: Max Verstappen , Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso; possibly Sebastian Vettel, based on his exceptional track record; or Charles Leclerc and George Russell in the key of promises.
However, the name of Carlos Sainz is not usually mentioned in that context. Shadowed by Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso and overtaken by Nico Hulkenberg at Renault, Sainz grew up alongside rookie Lando Norris in a rising McLaren, allowing him to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari .
But his flashes of brilliance are too rare for the man who has only taken one pole and one win so far this season.
“ I don’t know why I give that impression [of not having great talent],” Sainz lamented . “One thing I am very sure of is that all the teammates who have been with me, all the team managers, all the engineers who have studied my data, consider me a great talent, because they have seen what I am capable of. They know that I’m very fast in the rain – which is usually the hallmark of a talented driver – and I’m always up to the task in qualifying”.
“If the rest of the paddock can’t see that, maybe it’s my fault and I’m not showing it enough. When I talk to the press, or when I look at my qualifying laps, I don’t say, ‘Oh, I did my life.’ That’s not my style.”
“Maybe there’s a driver who finds it helpful to praise himself: ‘I’m having the best season of my career. I’m doing the best qualifying laps.’ “‘. But I’m not like that”, said the man from Madrid. Some will see a reference to Fernando Alonso , used to this type of hyperbole.
Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz: two different approaches to self-promotion
Sainz is also not worried about the difference with Leclerc in classification , despite the fact that the Monegasque beat him 13 times, compared to 4 for Carlos. Asked why he is so far behind his team-mate by one lap, Sainz replied: “It’s interesting, because it doesn’t seem like that to me.”
“At the beginning of the year I didn’t have any feeling with the car, but for example in Bahrain and Jeddah I fought for pole position and was very close. In Miami, Monaco and Canada, in the dry, I was also very fast. But every time I opened A stint in the race felt like I couldn’t do all the laps like in qualifying, like I was about to crash.” He added: “It’s more the race pace that I have to keep improving.”
At least there is that victory in the British Grand Prix, which makes him the second driver with the most starts before winning for the first time : 150, compared to 180 for Sergio Pérez. It was enough to get rid of the incessant criticism.
“For me, it was mostly the typical comments: ‘Will Carlos ever win?'” explains the Ferrari driver. “And I have to answer that question to the media, to the fans, to my family or to my friends. At least I don’t have to say it anymore. It’s here [the victory]. I don’t have to explain to anyone anymore that yes, he’s going to come, don’t worry, I’m going to win”.
And now that he feels more comfortable with the F1-75 , the Spaniard is hopeful that he can maintain himself at a higher level. At the beginning of the season, after having added 11 podiums before his first victory, the questions multiplied, even for the driver himself.
“Will this car give me the confidence I had from last year? Will I ever find the right pace to get this car to the level I know I can reach?” Sainz wondered. “It’s still not a car that I like, frankly, at the driving level. I still have to think a lot while driving it. And I still don’t drive it naturally. But at least I know that if several factors align, I can be at the level”.
Interview conducted by Jonathan Noble and Roberto Chinchero
Do you want to read our news before anyone else and for free? Follow us here on our Telegram channel and you won’t miss a thing. All the information, at your fingertips!