McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown had some very positive things to say regarding Carlos Sainz. The former team principal claimed Red Bull Racing is tough on its drivers’, creating a difficult environment. Brown showered praise on Sainz following a stellar debut for Mclaren.
Carlos Sainz Jr signed with McLaren in 2018, following a positive stint at Renault. The move ensured Sainz would be free from his Red Bull junior programme contract for any future endeavours. The Spaniard debuted in Formula One in 2015 for Toro Rosso, partnering Max Verstappen. In late 2017, Sainz joined Renault f1 – on loan from Toro Rosso. Sainz was still contracted to the Red Bull junior programme at the time.
Speaking to Autosport International, Brown said: “Carlos has been outstanding. I think he’d been living under one-year contracts in the whole Red Bull-Toro Rosso environment”.
Brown continued, “Obviously [Red Bull are a] fantastic team, but they can be a bit rough on their drivers”.
“I think Carlos is a driver that needs to know he’s got a team behind him and the next race might not be his last race, which is a little bit of the environment that is created over there [at Red Bull and Toro Rosso] sometimes.”
Red Bull have had a storied past when it comes to selecting drivers for their junior programme. The young driver programme has produced drivers of immense talent and calibre – such as Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. However, it has led to a strained relationship with many other drivers- current and former members of the programme.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko oversees the Red bull junior programme and rules with an iron fist. The Austrian is famed for providing blunt, honest answers when quizzed on the ins and outs of F1. However, many have criticized Marko for sabotaging drivers careers with poor decision making and strategies employed.
Marko had some choice words for Sainz when asked if he regretted letting the latter go. “Sainz was comforted with one Max Verstappen [at Toro Rosso], and later we had to choose which one of the two to promote [to the main team in 2016].”And when you get right down to it – Carlos is quick, we would not have signed him otherwise, but he is no Verstappen” said Marko, speaking to Autosport.
The mantra at Redbull Racing is simple- do or get demoted. The team have a habit of demoting drivers that fail to perform. Numerous drivers have been demoted to sister team Torro Rosso on account of poor performance. This isn’t factoring in the many instances where drivers have had to leave the team despite good performances.
In 2016, Red Bull demoted from Kvyat to Torro Rosso – following a string of mediocre performances on the track. The Russian was back at his old team, while his replacement – Max Verstappen went on to create history. Kvyat was subsequently fired in late 2017 with Pierre Gasly replacing him. The team rehired Daniil Kvyat for 2019.
In 2019, Gasly joined Redbull – replacing Daniel Ricciardo. However, a miserable first half meant it was Gasly’s turn to face demotion. Now, the Frenchman is back at Toro Rosso: partnering Daniil Kvyat- a fellow Redbull reject.
2020 will see Max Verstappen teaming up with Alex Albon. With the pressure mounting, Albon will have to deliver or participate in round 3 of Redbull’s musical chairs.
While all this was happening, Carlos Sainz has thrived in Mclaren. The Spaniard ensured the team would finish 4th in the constructors and even claimed a surprise podium along the way. Sainz finished the drivers’ standing best of the rest and the future looks promising with Mercedes power lingering on the horizon.