Five times Carlos Sainz caught Ferrari’s eye

Michelle Foster

McLaren 'never' gave up, first podium in 2,072 days

Carlos Sainz is expected to be announced as a 2021 Ferrari driver, replacing the out-going Sebastian Vettel.

The Spaniard was up against Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi for the race seat and has reportedly won the battle.

Here are five stand-out moments in Sainz’s Formula 1 career that will have made Ferrari, and the rest of the grid, take notice.

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

Racing for Toro Rosso in his second season in Formula 1, Sainz narrowly made it into Q2 at the Interlagos circuit – but that’s where his qualifying challenge concluded.

The Spaniard lined up 15th on the grid, right behind his team-mate Daniil Kvyat.

The heavens opened up, handing Sainz, who had shown his wet-weather class in junior series, an opportunity to shine.

Not only showing his prowess in the wet by sticking to the black stuff, something neither Ferrari managed while Romain Grosjean crashed on the way to the grid, he also demonstrated an understanding of strategy and the conditions as he made the call to stay out on extreme wets while those ahead of him switched to intermediates.

Handed a massive advantage over his midfield rivals, the Toro Rosso driver scythed through the cars in front of him to bag sixth place on the day.

“Well, the rain dance definitely worked and what a race that was! I’m super happy! To finish P6 after qualifying P15 is just amazing,” he said.

“I thought it was too risky to put the intermediates on and I asked the team to leave me out on extremes, and it worked! Today was all about a good strategy with no pit stops for me and a strong pace with no mistakes. To do it in these difficult conditions just makes it even better.”

Kvyat, who started ahead of Sainz, finished P13 and 20 seconds behind his team-mate.

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

Days after being announced as a Renault driver for the 2018 season, Sainz showed the Enstone team just what it was getting, and what Red Bull/Toro Rosso were losing.

Under the lights at the Marina Bay Circuit, he sneaked into Q3 and qualified P10.

The Spaniard was delighted when the rain came down in Singapore and even more so when the Ferraris eliminated one another and he was handed a welcome boost up the order.

Three Safety Cars over the 71 laps and once again opting for different tyres to those around him saw Sainz work his way up to fourth place.

One could argue that he was given a helping hand by retirements from Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg. But at the end of it all, it was Sainz up to P4 and in a Toro Rosso. At the time, he called it “the best race of my life”.

He was handed an early Renault promotion when the team parted ways with Jolyon Palmer after the Japanese GP and in his first race with Renault, the 2017 United States GP, he pulled off arguably one of the best overtakes of the season.

Challenging Sergio Perez, he overtook the Force India (now Racing Point) driver around the outside into Turn 19 and made it stick.

“Utterly brilliant” from Martin Brundle summed it up.

2019 Monaco Grand Prix

But while Sainz had moments with Toro Rosso and with Renault, it was his first year with McLaren – 2019 – in which he really came into his own.

Starting P9 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the McLaren driver lined up behind his former team-mate Kvyat with the other Toro Rosso of Alex Albon behind him.

Albon immediately put pressure on Sainz drawing alongside him only for the Spaniard to power his way back past.

He immediately challenged Kvyat for position, attacking around the outside in what he billed as one of his “best overtakes” ever.

“An amazing first lap,” he said. That’s putting it mildly!

Monaco 2019: Sainz Slingshots past Kvyat

That start from Carlos Sainz. 🔥😲 #MonacoGP

Posted by McLaren on Sunday, 26 May 2019

2019 Austrian Grand Prix

But perhaps Sainz’s best start was in Austria where he qualified a disappointing P19 at the Red Bull Ring.

The Spaniard was determined to make amends on the Sunday.

He made short work of Albon and then Kvyat on the opening lap before systematically slicing his way through the field.

Passing Robert Kubica, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, Sainz finished P8.

It was an incredible drive but the best was yet to come.

2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

Sainz wasn’t able to set a lap time during qualifying for the Brazilian GP and lined up at the very back of the grid, stone last.

His Saturday was cut short by a technical issue that resulted in a loss of power.

Although conceding that a “challenging” race awaited him, the Spaniard was determined to seize any opportunity that presented.

And seize them he did.

He sliced his way through the field in the early laps to work his way inside the top ten.

As the late-race drama played out, including Lewis Hamilton nudging Albon, Sainz crossed the line in fourth place.

That became P3 when Hamilton was penalised for his clash with Albon.

It was Sainz’s maiden F1 podium and McLaren’s first in 2072 days.

You would suspect there will be plenty more podiums on the way for Sainz next year, maybe even some that see him on the very top step…

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