Carlos Sainz has revealed joining Ferrari is the realisation of a childhood dream that was born when he met Michael Schumacher.
The Spaniard is settling into life with the Scuderia as Charles Leclerc’s new team-mate, having been chosen last spring as the replacement for Sebastian Vettel.
In doing so, Sainz has left McLaren, whom he helped to finish third in the 2020 constructors’ World Championship, three positions and 71 points ahead of Ferrari.
But there are certainly no regrets on the part of the 26-year-old, whose affection for the Italian giants stemmed from an encounter with the seven-time former World Champion at the Circuit de Catalunya when he was in his pomp.
“When I was 10 years old, I went to Barcelona and was lucky enough to meet one of my greatest heroes, Michael Schumacher, and visit the Ferrari garage,” said Sainz during an interview with the Ferrari team.
“The atmosphere there was simply special, there is nothing like it. Therefore, I guess the easiest way to describe what joining Scuderia Ferrari means to me is a childhood dream come true.
“However, the way I see it, to put on the red race suit and drive for this team is much more than just a dream. As a racing driver, it’s a great honour and a big responsibility that I really look forward to experiencing and embracing.”
I would like to thank every single member of the team for making me feel at home since my arrival and during my debut in such an iconic place like Fiorano. Now It’s time to keep working hard during these next months to keep preparing the season ahead. Grazie a tutti! #CarlosSainz pic.twitter.com/JNFleZjYnQ
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) January 28, 2021
Looking back to his childhood, the son of the 1990 and 1992 World Rally Champion learned at an early age what it was like to sit at the wheel of a red machine.
“I had many red toy cars back in the day and even my first ever go-kart was completely red,” recalled Sainz.
“Nowadays, even the racing car emoji on WhatsApp is red! Every single racing driver and fan knows what Scuderia Ferrari represents and even if you are not into motorsports or even if you don’t like cars at all, you still recognise the brand and associate the colour red with Ferrari. That’s how big it is.”
Sainz has already connected with the Ferrari fans after making a special trip to greet those who turned out to watch his first test in a 2018 car at Fiorano – and followed up by engaging again on social media.
“To all the tifosi out there, I can guarantee my absolute commitment to them and to the Scuderia,” he added.
“We share the same passion for this team and they can be sure I will give my absolute best to make them proud.
“I will drive my heart out in every single race and work hard away from the track to help the team improve faster.
“I’m sure we also share the ambition of seeing Ferrari back where it belongs and with their support, I’m convinced we will get there sooner than later.
“It is an absolute honour to represent the best fans in the world and I’m impatient to jump in the car and go racing knowing they are with me.”