In 2015, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz made their F1 debuts with Toro Rosso. A year later, the two re-signed with the Faenza team, before Verstappen got an unexpected promotion to Red Bull. He repaid the faith with a win in his first race for the team.
Since then, motorsport boss Helmut Marko has not regretted his decision. In addition to that, he he does not regret letting Sainz go from the Red Bull programme. Admittedly, he insisted that it was not a lack of faith in the Spaniard. He was a fast driver but ‘he was not a Verstappen’.
Carlos Sainz practically a Red Bull-grown product who rose through the junior ranks to eventually reach Formula 1. However, after he was overlooked in favour of Verstappen, he was loaned to Renault. Finally in 2018, Marko released him from his Red Bull contract and effectively freed him in the driver market and allowed McLaren to pounce.
The Spaniard has established a good rapport with teammate Lando Norris and even delivered spectacular results for the team. Some thought that he would get a shoe into the Red Bull team after Pierre Gasly’s below-par performance.
However, Alex Albon was the big winner in the Red Bull musical chairs, while Sainz remained at McLaren.
Why Verstappen and not Carlos Sainz?
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Marko mentioned that Verstappen and Sainz Jr were the only options to fill Kvyat’s vacated 2016 Red Bull seat.
He continued, “Carlos is fast – otherwise we would not have picked him up at all – but he is not a Verstappen.”
Needless to say, choosing Verstappen was a stroke of genius. Not only did it result his sensational debut win in Spain, but also paved the way for him to eventually lead the Red Bull charge.
Meanwhile, Sainz was not too torn up about his Red Bull snub. This was because he managed to secure an even sweeter deal with McLaren.