Carlos Sainz is a familiar presence at Ferrari’s Maranello base, but in the early stages they were not quite sure what to do with him.
After spending two seasons with McLaren, Sainz landed a dream switch to Ferrari for 2021, taking the seat vacated by four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
And it did not take long for Sainz to transfer the work ethic which he developed at McLaren over to Ferrari.
Staff at Ferrari’s Maranello factory were not used to having a driver there so regularly, but in time they found ways to keep the Spaniard busy.
“It’s a work ethic, or a work method, that I kind of discovered at McLaren,” he told Sky F1.
“I moved to the UK to try and make my adaptation to McLaren in the first year as quick as possible. At the beginning, Ferrari were not used to having the driver there so often and we had to find ways to keep me busy or try and say ‘what shall we do today, let’s do something and make it useful’. But then we got used to it and it’s started working really well.”
Although Sainz was not able to drive Ferrari’s 2021 challenger, the SF21, for the first until pre-season testing in Bahrain, he made his unofficial debut behind the wheel of a Ferrari during a private test at their Fiorano track which also included Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari Driver Academy members.
And it was at this moment where it truly began to sink in for Sainz that he was a Ferrari driver.
“I’m not very good at describing my emotions and feelings, but I can tell you that you can feel how all the engineers and mechanics know it’s an important day for you, and you see the fans at the fences, they had a couple of banners supporting me,” he recalled.
“That felt incredibly special because I suddenly realised that moment was the moment I had dreamed about for 15 years. My idols of the past – Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel – they all had that first day at Fiorano – and I enjoyed it a lot.
“When I went to bed that night I could reflect a bit on it and I really enjoyed it.”