Carlos Sainz has enjoyed a solid 7 years in the pinnacle of motorsports. He will now sport his fourth set of overalls for yet another team, Scuderia Ferrari, for the 2021 season.
He gradually honed his craft and built his resume, which led to him earning the honor of calling Maranello home for the foreseeable future.
However, this wouldn’t have happened had he not left the Red Bull program in 2017 for Renault. He also feels that he made that decision back then for the best.
The Spaniard has gone from strength to strength ever since he stumbled out of the Red Bull system. He gave Max Verstappen a very close fight during their time together in Toro Rosso.
Though he wasn’t all that comfortable with Renault, he still put together very consistent drives in 2018 as he finished within the points on 13 out of the 19 races.
He also used his time at McLaren to build two consecutive 6th-placed finishes in the Drivers’ Championship standings. He’s hoping that he will be able to make a similar leap at Ferrari.
In an interview, Carlos Sainz spoke about the uncertainty he felt with the direction his career was heading towards at the end of 2017. He felt that his craft commanded more than just a junior position.
But he couldn’t break into that senior set-up due to the talented behemoths reigning strong. This cleared the way for his loan move to Renault.
He said, “Red Bull helped make it possible that I went out on loan to Renault. And I knew then that I was probably breaking the ties. I took that decision knowingly.”
The Spaniard spoke about the irony of the team opting for Pierre Gasly instead of him to replace Daniel Ricciardo. He said, “So no, I wasn’t very surprised when I wasn’t recalled.
“In the long term, it turned out to be the right decision for me, and even though I will always be grateful to Red Bull, for my career [the move] turned out to be good and I think if you asked them they would agree.”
The Spanish driver’s career trajectory can be split into three arcs; his time within the Red Bull program, his 3.5-year stint split between Renault and McLaren, and finally the start of his journey at a ‘big’ team in Ferrari.
Across these arcs, one thread joins them all. It’s his constant desire to improve from season to season. This can be seen in his stint with McLaren. In his first year there, though very good, he would drop out of the Top-10 finishes on occasion.
This was something he improved upon in year two, with his best run shown in the last 7 races of the season, when he finished 4th to 7th in every race. This consistency was what helped McLaren leapfrog their midfield rivals to take up 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship.
Looking at that body of work leads to the logical conclusion that he would help Ferrari massively. He could potentially lead the team to the Top-3.
However, this is all just conjecture at this point; for the first glimpse of his impact on the team’s stature can only be gauged by witnessing how well the Prancing Stallion fares at the season-opener in Bahrain.