Carlos Sainz will be a Ferrari driver starting in 2021 and he is adamant no one or nothing will rain on his parade as he steps into the spotlight of the sport’s most famous team, a legendary pressure cooker in which his performances will be under the microscope
While Ferrari are in crisis, their package condemning them to the wrong end of the grid. By their own admission, they went up the wrong garden path with their concept for the current hybrid turbo era, while the woeful aerodynamics approach has rendered this year’s SF1000 a brick.
But Sainz told Mundo Deportivo during an interview, “Even for people who laugh now because of how Ferrari is doing or what it’s like to go to the team in the situation they are in now, I laugh at them because I hope one day you can experience what I am going through in Italy.
“II am not even a Ferrari driver yet, but rather next year. It’s just that it’s such an incredible feeling that not even many of the best drivers in F1 history have been able to have. That is why people who ask me if I regret signing or if I doubt Ferrari, well I say no.”
Ironically Sainz is enjoying his best year in F1 this year, after a niggly start to the season, with highly motivated and competent Lando Norris in the sister car, the Spaniard has grown in stature with upwardly-mobile McLaren while his future team struggle.
Next year Spain are in for an F1 bonanza, not only does Fernando Alonso comeback with Renault skinned as Alpine and Carlos at Ferrari, the sport’s greatest team.
He will be the 110th man to don the red race suit of the Scuderia, the pressure is sure to ramp up, a fact the 26-year-old Madridista acknowledges, “When you get to a team as important as Ferrari, the fans will probably follow me a little more or pay a little more attention to F1, but I like that, it’s the ideal, it’s what every athlete wants.
“That is why I am very motivated to go to Ferrari next year and I think that the Spanish fans will be hooked on F1. Now let’s hope Ferrari does a good job and that we can have a competitive car next year. And if not, it’s still Ferrari!
“And for example, even if Real Madrid (his favourite soccer team) don’t have good seasons, everyone still follows Madrid even in bad years. The fact is that I go to Ferrari with the intention of winning one day and of being able to compete for a team as legendary as Ferrari.”
Sainz’s journey has been intense, making his F1 debut at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix he was up against Max Verstappen in the early days and when the Dutchman got the nod over him, a year later, to be promoted to Red Bull.
The Sainz clan were aggrieved and the writing was on the wall and after a lone period with Renault, Carlos ended up with McLaren starting last year. Since then the driver and team have risen up the pecking order, thus no surprise Ferrari came knocking and McLaren, to their credit, were happy to indulge the driver they are very fond of.
The significance does not fall short of Carlos who credited “peace of mind and confidence” to his emergence, and added, “My career until I got to McLaren was very busy, where the first three years at Toro Rosso were very good and with a very good progression.
Then the team dance began at Renault and the uncertainty that was the Renault project and my situation there… as a Red Bull driver, within a team like Renault and the bad relationship between both parties and so on.
“I can not complain. I think it has been a sporting career with its ups and downs, but certainly more ups than downs. The fact of having spent these last years for teams like Renault, McLaren and next year at Ferrari for me is a dream come true that if you told a 10-year-old boy 15 years ago he would not have believed it, or I would have thought you were joking.
“I’m very happy. The steps I have taken as a driver in recent years have helped me to get into this position now and I really want to continue improving because I know I have room for improvement to be an even better driver and continue to progress in F1.
“In the end at McLaren I found a home where I feel super supported, super welcomed and with confidence and that has helped me to give the best version of myself and also thanks to them the Ferrari signing happened, because without a team like McLaren, which gives you that confidence to perform at the level that I have performed, that signing would never have come.
“Many thanks to Zak Brown, who was the first to trust me when I was not going through the best of times. It was a difficult moment and it was the one that put his eye on me, he trusted me 100% and gave me the tools to do well in a team like McLaren, and from then on you know everything that happened.”
Indeed this is the comfort zone Carlos will give up for Ferrari where many promising and ambitious drivers have come and gone without trace. Not helping is the uncompetitive car that the Reds are most likely going to hand their new driver.
But he is aware of the challenges and potential hurdles, “Changing a car to suddenly win races is going to be difficult. Therefore, I think that next year is going to be a difficult year.
So patience and hopefully Ferrari will get the keys back,” added Sainz, who has yet to win a Grand Prix in 110 starts, but does have a couple of podiums to his name.