Sainz: Lots of fast drivers, not enough cars

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz Renault McLaren

McLaren and Renault split on two-day F1 format seen in Japan.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz has lashed out at the state of Formula 1, saying there are not enough competitive seats for drivers.

Ferrari, Red Bull and particularly Mercedes have been the dominant forces in Formula 1 since the turbo-hybrid era was introduced, with the Silver Arrows taking all five Drivers and Constructors’ titles while looking near certainties for a record sixth.

The German GP displayed just how chaotic a race must be for someone outside the top six to make the podium – Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat having that honour.

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are shaping up to be the starts of the future with their epic battles in Austria and Great Britain backing up such a claim, and Sainz hopes that from 2021 there will be more fast cars for the talented drivers who are currently stuck further down the grid to get involved in the title fight.

Asked by if he felt McLaren could one day place him in the fight with the likes of Verstappen and Leclerc, Sainz said: “I hope McLaren can build a car to one day have Lando [Norris] and me fighting these guys that you mention.

“I think Formula 1 can change a lot in 2021. And to already make the assumption that it’s going to be a Verstappen-Leclerc… That’s what we’re going to have in 2019 and 2020 for sure, but in 2021 Formula 1 can change and suddenly the people who are going to fight could change perfectly.

“So it’s just a matter of who’s in the right place at the right time. If Verstappen is in the right place at the right time, he will win several world championships. If he’s not, he will not win championships. And this is just the way it works unfortunately at the moment in Formula 1.

“This is a very frustrating part because the sport doesn’t depend on the athlete. So it’s not a 100-metre sprint where the best wins. I still think the best are normally in the best cars, but I don’t think there are enough good cars to feed all the good drivers in Formula 1.”

Sainz named Fernando Alonso as an example of drivers who have missed out on World Championships due to poor machinery when they could have won more – Alonso won back-to-back titles with Renault in 2005 and 06, but questionable career choices left him oftentimes in cars below title-winning standard.

“We all agree that he could have had a few more world championships in Formula 1 and he just hasn’t,” Sainz explained.

“Is he considered any less than any other driver? I don’t think so. He’s as good as any other driver but the number [of titles] is smaller.”

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