It turned out, not only did the Spaniard make the transition better than any other driver joining a new team, but he also managed to outscore Leclerc
One of the revelations of the 2021 season was the performance of Carlos Sainz Jr in his debut season at Ferrari. Sainz was under great pressure as he came into the legendary team as a replacement for 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel from what was a superb stint at McLaren where he was the number 1 driver. Sainz Jr also was entering a tumultuous environment in a team that was backing the very gifted Charles Leclerc and was in coming out of a really bad phase in its history after the 2020 season. He was also joining at a time when testing was limited so his transition to the new car was going to be a hard one.
And as it turned out, not only did Carlos Sainz Jr make the transition better and faster than any other driver joining a new team, but he also managed to outscore Leclerc by a few points. While doing so he also ended up scoring more podium finishes than his Monegasque teammate whom Ferrari has backed since early on in his career and headed a 5-year contract.
His performance logically has surprised many, as Leclerc didn’t have a bad season, but on the contrary, he was unlucky and had a couple of retirements. But regardless, Sainz shined with both the technical side of the car, his work ethic, his racecraft, qualifying pace, and generally, he worked well even with Leclerc.
That’s why now Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto now stands vindicated and is looking towards a contract extension towards the Spaniard. Likely, his sterling performance in the Scuderia has also attracted former Spanish sponsor Santander back to Ferrari. It was there when Fernando Alonso was with the team till 2017.
“I would like to sit down with him [Sainz]. I have not started yet the discussion with him, I don’t know what he’s got in mind as well so to date, there is not an answer to that. First I would like to understand how he’s pleased. You have a review with him on the season and look together at the future. It will be a simple and easy discussion, no doubt,” said the Ferrari Motorsport chief.
“You know, when we signed with Carlos, the objective was to have two good drivers that were good racers, consistent, and capable of scoring points for the team. I think it’s what we got this season, so I’m very proud of both of them. I think as I often said, we’ve got the best line-up in Formula 1 and in the paddock, and pretty certainly, I’m pretty happy with what Carlos did this season. Being his very first season with Ferrari, it was not straightforward and obvious,” he added.
Sainz scored 164.5 points which cemented his P5 in the world driver’s championship ahead of Perez and his former teammate Lando Norris, apart from Leclerc who managed P7. Ferrari also has a wealth of talent waiting in the wings with now-former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Gionviazzi becoming its reserve driver this year, FDA graduate Mick Schumacher sharing the duties while driving for Haas, and Callum Illott looking towards other motorsport categories.