Marko tips Sainz as a potential title contender

Jon Wilde
Carlos Sainz holds his trophy after finishing third in the Russian GP. Sochi September 2021.

Carlos Sainz holds his trophy on the podium after finishing third in the Russian Grand Prix. Sochi September 2021.

Helmut Marko has followed up his recent praise of Carlos Sainz, in relation to his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, by tipping him as a title contender.

The Red Bull driver academy boss is very familiar with Sainz’s work because the Spaniard was a member of the programme he runs between 2010 and 2017.

Toro Rosso gave Sainz his Formula 1 debut in 2015 at the same time as Max Verstappen. But when the chance to replace Daniil Kvyat with the senior Red Bull team arose in May of the following year, it was the three-years-younger Dutchman that was selected.

For 2018 and 2019, Sainz moved to Renault upon leaving the Red Bull set-up. He then had another two years with McLaren before joining Ferrari for 2021.

Carlos Sainz and Helmut Marko speak in 2016.
Then-Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz speaks to Helmut Marko. Pictured in 2016.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a strong first season with the Scuderia, finishing fifth in the Drivers’ standings and outscoring his highly-rated colleague Leclerc – who is regarded as something of a ‘golden boy’ at Maranello.

In doing so, Sainz was said recently by Marko to have “debunked” the mystique around Leclerc by outperforming him during his debut Ferrari campaign.

Now Marko has gone a step further by suggesting if the Italian giants can give him a car capable of winning races on a regular basis, Sainz could be in the running for the World Championship – which is currently held by his original F1 team-mate, Verstappen.

“The new regulations make it difficult to make predictions for this season. But if Ferrari should make a big hit with their new car, Carlos can certainly challenge for the title,” Marko told Auto Bild.

“Carlos is a very good racing driver. The fact he left Red Bull was not due to his performance. In any case, he has shown Leclerc is probably not the wonder boy many people thought he was.”


Sainz himself has said this winter that although he has acquired a reputation for being a particularly hard worker among the current crop of Formula 1 drivers, he does not want that attribute to overshadow his talent in terms of the perception from outside.

His father, Carlos Sainz Snr, the two-time former rallying World Champion, feels his son is the more genetically gifted of the duo behind the wheel.

“I think he is the bigger natural talent, purely in terms of driving feel,” said the 59-year-old who recently took two more stage wins in the Dakar Rally, increasing his career tally to 46.


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