F1 Driver Profiles: Carlos Sainz Jr.

As the son of a former World Rally Champion who shares the same name, Carlos Sainz has had big racing boots to fill – first at McLaren where he replaced his childhood hero Fernando Alonso, and now at Ferrari, in the seat formerly owned by Sebastian Vettel. Sainz has shown the drive and disposition to deal with the challenges of having a world class pedigree and living in the shadow of racing giants.

Carlos Sainz Jr. entered F1 paired alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso in 2015, where he quickly showed his fighting spirit. A relentless racer, Sainz constantly pushes the car to the edge as he methodically makes his way through the pack. The Spaniard is intelligent as well as instinctive, thinking his way through a race and ideally onto the podium.  His calm temperament follows him off the track where he remains unfazed by the pressures of establishing a Grand Prix career with a famous name. 

In 2019 he filled the empty seat at McLaren that was leftover by fellow countryman Fernando Alonso's F1 exit. Sainz scored his first points for McLaren at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with a solid 7th place finish. That race started a streak of high-quality performances which helped the Spaniard to score points in the last 8 of 9 Grands Prix before the summer break, including back to back 5th place finishes in Germany and Hungary.

He finished 2019 in sixth place overall in the Championship with 96 points, the best finish in his F1 career and highest finish for a McLaren driver since Lewis Hamilton placed fourth in 2012.

The 2020 F1 season started slowly for Sainz, but the Spaniard scored the second podium of his career in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. Sainz suffered two consecutive retirements after his 2nd place finish at Monza, but he scored points in the remaining seven races to climb up to sixth place in the World Drivers' Championship in the 2020 season. Early in the 2020 season news broke that Sainz would replace struggling Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari for the 2021 and 2022 season.

The new Scuderia Ferrari duo was closely matched throughout the season, although Leclerc out-qualified Sainz 14-8, and also finished ahead in 14 of the 22 Grands Prix. But, by the end of the season Sainz finished ahead of his Ferrari teammate, with 164.5 points to Leclerc's 159. Sainz finished fifth overall in the 2021 F1 championship behind the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers, and achieved four podiums in the 2021 campaign, including 3rd place in the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale.