Sainz ‘unlucky to meet Max at a crucial moment’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen STR launch. Spain February 2015

Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen STR launch. Spain February 2015

Making his F1 debut in the same season as Max Verstappen and with the same team, Helmut Marko says Carlos Sainz was “unlucky” to go up against the Dutchman at a “crucial moment” in their careers.

Sainz and Verstappen both made their Formula 1 debuts in 2015, signed by Toro Rosso in an all-rookie line-up.

That season, Sainz outqualified his Dutch team-mate 10 to nine, but it was Verstappen who came out on top in the standings with 49 points to the Spaniard’s 18.

A year later, with Red Bull making the call to drop Daniil Kvyat, it was Verstappen who was given the nod ahead of his team-mate for the promotion.

While Verstappen stayed with Red Bull, Sainz was never offered a promotion to the senior team and, near the end of the 2017 season, moved to Renault before joining McLaren and now Ferrari.

Verstappen went on to win a World title with Red Bull, P1 last season with Sainz finishing fifth in his first year with the Scuderia.

Marko reckons if it had not been for Verstappen, Sainz may have had a longer career with the Red Bull family.

He told Autorevue: “Sainz was unlucky to meet Verstappen at a crucial moment.

Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen celebrate. Abu Dhabi December 2021

“We already saw in the first test at Silverstone he was super-fast right away. He was almost at the same level as Verstappen. Almost.

“But when we had the choice between Verstappen and Sainz, it was clear.”

With no promotion on the cards in his third season with the junior team, Red Bull committed to Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo for the 2018 season, so Sainz moved to Renault.

“Both were disappointed, but his father the most,” Marko recalled. “We loaned him out to Renault first because our contract was still running.”

Joining McLaren in 2019, Sainz bagged his maiden F1 podium finish with P3 in Brazil and added a second a year later, runner-up at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.

Last season, in his first year with Ferrari, he finished on the podium four times and beat his much-lauded team-mate Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings.

“Sainz is definitely one of the top people,” Marko added. “He’s proven that. In my eyes, he disenchanted Leclerc.


“Sainz was there in terms of speed, Leclerc just had a lot of accidents.

“And at McLaren you saw Norris is the one of the boys who has established himself best. Sainz absolutely kept up with him.”


PlanetF1 Verdict


Sainz was 'unlucky to meet Max at a crucial moment'

Helmut Marko believes that Carlos Sainz was unlucky coming up against Max Verstappen on his F1 debut.