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  • Reese Mautone

Under The Radar: Carlos Sainz

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Through the triumphs and tribulations of the 2021 season, many drivers have ceased to make headlines despite their impressive performances, none so little recognised as Scuderia Ferrari driver, Carlos Sainz.

As a first-year Ferrari driver, the pressure of the Italian team's rich history and past successes can rest heavily upon a driver's shoulders. The choice of whether or not to let that pressure box you into a corner, or motivate you to write your own history can only be made evident on the track and through your results. The 2020 season was among the darkest for Ferrari, seeing them drop from 2nd in the Constructors' Championship in 2019, to a sombre 6th in 2020.

During these two years, Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was cementing his place in the sport at McLaren after stints with both Toro Rosso and Renault, alongside then-rookie Lando Norris, in which they achieved P3 in the Constructors' Championship. Sainz announced his move to Ferrari early in the 2020 season, a move which many were sceptical of given the Ferrari's form, and began proving people wrong from the get-go of his 2021 campaign, paired with Charles Leclerc.

As of current, the Spaniard has accumulated 3 podiums with the Maranello based team this season: 2nd place in Monaco, 3rd place in Hungary (though through default), and most recently 3rd place in Russia after qualifying P2. Sainz ranks 5th for most podiums this season ahead of the likes of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, his highly regarded teammate Charles Leclerc, and Daniel Ricciardo, this season driving for Ferrari's closest competitor for P3 in the Constructors' Championship, McLaren.

“I’d say he's a bit underrated. He's better than people think.” - Sebastian Vettel

On paper, the Monaco Grand Prix was Ferrari's to lose, but with one car forced to DNS on the basis of reliability issues, Sainz was left to maximise Ferrari's bittersweet weekend by himself. The race result revealed more about Sainz as a driver than ever before. His disappointment in equaling his best result in Formula 1 can only be put down to his work ethic and dedication to project his team as far as possible, and understandably to earn his maiden F1 win after 6 years in the sport.

Impressively, Sainz was also the quickest to adapt to his new team and car this season, when compared to the likes of Perez and Ricciardo. In the Spaniard's F1 career, he has moved a total of 3 times: Toro Rosso to Renault, Renault to McLaren, and McLaren to Ferrari.

His ability to adapt with ease makes him an attractive and reliable driver to employ and puts him and his team at an advantage of rivals who struggle in these circumstances.

Not only does Sainz bring his adaptability to the table, but also a multitude of other skills such as his confidence in wet weather conditions, proving useful in the closing stages of the Russian GP, and his fast reflexes, ranking in the top end of the grid. His personality and charismatic persona make him a solid teammate free of internal conflict, having formed strong bonds with all his previous teammates, this year being no different.

"You go into this team kind of making a dream come true."

Sainz made a risky but sure choice when moving to a team that, from the outside, looked to be focused around a single driver. Not only within the garage walls, but nation and worldwide Leclerc fuelled the hearts of the more than passionate Tifosi since 2019, with Vettel by his side.

If the shoes of a 4 time World Champion aren't a big enough task to fill, Sainz also has to line

up next to one of the sports most talented drivers. The Monegasque has gone from strength to strength annually, through thick and thin showing his natural skill in all areas, even managing to overshadow Sebastian Vettel on countless outings, however, this season Sainz

has failed to be overpowered.

The 27-year-old shows his maturity in his millisecond quick decision-making skills, creating for smart and refreshing moves to be made week in and week out. With 15 races under his belt, Sainz leads Leclerc by 8.5 points in P6, impressing his team and Tifosi alike.

Despite the restrictive ability of the SF21, both Ferrari drivers have evidently shown that they have the talent to extract every last inch of speed from their car, making it a race against the clock to lift the P1 trophy before lights out on the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.

Hunting down his first win, Sainz only proves that he is far more than capable of taking the top spot and bringing home the long-awaited trophy to Maranello, whether the hype is surrounding him or not.



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