Carlos Sainz pushing Ferrari towards buyer’s remorse after Lewis Hamilton swap

Sam Cooper
Carlos Sainz, F1 news

16 days after surgery, Carlos Sainz won in Melbourne.

At the time of the announcement, Lewis Hamilton taking Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari spot in 2025 was universally accepted as a smart move.

Ever since the Spaniard arrived in Maranello, there has been an assumption that he is a step behind team-mate Charles Leclerc and yet, he has once again outperformed the Monegasque.

Since that announcement, Sainz has been like a driver possessed but that is not to say he has not been in good form for a while now. Heading into Melbourne and sans an appendix, Sainz was still the most recent non-Red Bull driver to win a race, he is now the only driver not in blue and red to win a race in 16 months.

He qualified P2, a session that is supposedly Leclerc’s strength, and while Max Verstappen’s issues made the overtake easier, Sainz still pulled it off with relative ease.

From there, it was an assured drive that we have become used to seeing from the Smooth Operator. In Singapore, he used his opponents to his advantage whereas in Melbourne there was no need to. Leclerc kept at arm’s length and Sainz able to keep his tyres alive much longer than most on the grid.

And all this from a driver who, as it stands, will be out of the sport come December. It is a situation not too dissimilar from Sergio Perez in 2020 when Racing Point opted to swap him for Sebastian Vettel and that Red Bull seat he took up could now be the focus of Sainz.

The 29-year-old is quickly emerging as the hottest property on the grid and could walk into most of the constructors on the grid. He would be a welcome addition at Mercedes and Aston Martin, too, should Fernando Alonso head in the opposite direction.

A move to Sauber has been mooted but to do so now would be not worthy of Sainz’s talent and performances. recommends

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But what of Ferrari? When was the last time a team willingly gave away their best performing driver? The universal love-in for Hamilton and the kissy faces Fred Vasseur has made to the seven-time World Champion over the years will have no doubt rubbed Sainz up the wrong way.

The lack of a goodbye in the team’s announcement was telling of how much they value their most recent race winner.

The professionalism of Sainz meant he said all the right things but his actions in the season opener showed he meant business. Permission to overtake Leclerc was not sought and instead, Sainz took what he deemed was rightfully his.

Saudi Arabia was a blip but only Verstappen can claim to have started the season brighter than Sainz.

Ferrari will maintain they are happy with their decision and Hamilton may well prove to be a success but right now, Sainz is making himself impossible to ignore.

Read next: Australian GP: Carlos Sainz capitalises on Max Verstappen DNF to win in Melbourne