Driver Profile: Carlos Sainz

NameCarlos Sainz Vázquez de Castro
Date of Birth1 September 1994
Place of BirthMadrid, Spain
Car Number55
First Entry2015 Australian Grand Prix

Biography of F1 driver Carlos Sainz

Sainz’s first taste of racing came in karting, winning the Asia-Pacific KF3 title in 2008 and finishing runner-up in the Spanish Championship.

After winning the Junior Monaco Kart Cup the following year, Sainz competed in Formula BMW Europe with the EuroInternational team in 2010, while also joining the Red Bull Junior Team Programme.

It was an appearance in the Formula BMW Pacific Series at Sepang that earned him a role with the Red Bull Programme. Racing as a guest driver, Sainz was ineligible for points.

Nonetheless, Sainz finished second at the first race and followed that up with a fourth-place finish. Overall, he ended the campaign with three pole positions, two wins and two fastest laps from nine races.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. during testing REUTERS/Albert Gea

Sainz in Formula 3 and GP3

From there Sainz made the move to Formula 3 for the 2012 season, racing in both the British and Euro Series. Sainz continued to impress, winning four races to go along with nine podium finishes to finish sixth for Carlin in the British championship, while he scored two podiums in the Euro Series en tour to ninth position overall.

Sainz competed in the GP3 series in 2013, driving for the Christian Horner and Mark Webber co-owned Arden team. In the end he could only manage two podiums and one pole positions, finishing 10th in the standings.

The Spaniard also competed in Formula Renault 3.5 that year, however he missed several races due to his GP3 commitments, resulting in a 19th place finish.

Championship success in Formula Renault

Sainz made the move to DAMS for the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 season, and although he started the season with an 18th-place finish in Monza, he won the second race.

It was a sign of things to come as Sainz ended the season with an impressive seven victories, with Roberto Merhi his closest rival on two wins. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the penultimate race of the season when Merhi retired that Sainz clinched the title, becoming the first Red Bull Junior Team driver to win the series.

Sainz enters the F1 world with Toro Rosso

After serving as test driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2013, Sainz finally earned an F1 seat with the latter for the 2015 season.

Partnering Max Verstappen, Sainz started the year with two consecutive points finishes in Australian and Malaysia. However, a run of four straight retirements during the middle of the year, along with two more later in the year, meant he could only finish the year in 15th with 18 points.

With his first F1 season behind him, Sainz’s performance improved in 2016, as he finished sixth on three separate occasions to end the year 12th on 46 points.

Switch to Renault

Although Sainz began the 2017 season with Toro Rosso, he didn’t end the year with the team.

Renault opted to let Jolyon Palmer go following the Japanese Grand Prix, and Sainz, who was originally scheduled to join the team in 2018, was allowed to leave early.

Sainz debuted for Renault at the United States Grand Prix, finishing seventh and outqualifying teammate Nico Hulkenberg. In the end, he finished the year ninth, a then career-high, on 54 points

Short stint with Renault then McLaren

Sainz started 2018 strongly with points from seven of the first eight races, including a fifth-place finish in Azerbaijan. However his form tapered off from there, with teammate Hulkenberg ending the year 16 points ahead of the Spaniard’s tally of 53.

It would prove to be Sainz’s final year with Renault, as he made the move to McLaren in 2019, replacing compatriot Fernando Alonso.

Despite a slow start that saw him fail to score points at the opening three races, Sainz turned things around, finishing in the top 10 at eight of the next nine. Sainz ended the year on a high, originally finishing fourth in Brazil, however he was later promoted to third after Lewis Hamilton was penalised for causing a collision with Alexander Albon, resulting in his first F1 podium. He ended the year sixth in the standings on 96 points, 47 ahead of teammate Lando Norris.

Sainz carried that strong form in 2020, finishing the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix in ninth. He followed that up with ninth at the Styrian Grand Prix, where he also recored his first fastest lap in F1.

Although Sainz failed to start the Belgian Grand Prix due to a power unit issue on the reconnaissance lap, he made up for it in the big way at the following race in Italy.

After qualifying behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, he came within 0.4 seconds of claiming his first win, finishing just behind Pierre Gasly in second. This result, along with seven consecutive points finishes to end the year, helped Sainz finish the year sixth in the standings with 105 points.

Sainz makes the move to Ferrari

After two years at McLaren, Sainz was on the move again in 2021, signing a two-year deal with Ferrari and replacing Sebastian Vettel.

Sainz needed just five races to claim his first podium with his new team, finishing second at the Monaco Grand Prix. Three more podium finishes, including one at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, helped him finish fifth in the Drivers’ Championship – the highest non-Mercedes or Red Bull driver – with 164.5 points, five-and-a-half ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc.