Despite his former Toro Rosso rival getting the better of him professionally, Sainz is adamant that it’s all got nothing to do with him.
It’s not easy when two young drivers come into a sport at exactly the same time. No matter what they do, comparisons between them will always be rife and their various successes and failures matched against each other’s. Imagine Sainz’s predicament as the Toro Rosso driver who didn’t make it into Red Bull like his contemporary Max Verstappen.
Both Sainz and Verstappen entered F1 simultaneously and formed a rookie partnership in Faenza in 2015 before the latter got his big break. The two were compared even before Verstappen’s move to Red Bull, with Sainz considered an even match for Verstappen in terms of raw pace. The contrast between their fortunes only becomes more stark when you take into account the poor debut campaign Sainz was subject to. It’s no wonder Sainz is keen to distance himself from the drama. He insists that his eight points finishes in the 12 races so far have nothing to do with Verstappen or his progress.
“I think it’s irrelevant. It’s totally irrelevant, because at the end of the day, my race shouldn’t be affected by others. If Max was here or not, I would still have scored the same, we would still be as close as we were in every qualifying and in every race, but the result would have been more or less there every weekend. I don’t think it would have changed much.”
He’s attempting to convince us (and possibly himself) that his lack of similar opportunity is only down to a case of bad luck.
“Things that were happening to us in Russia, or like the pit-stop in China, were really out of our control and suddenly, these things stopped all of a sudden in Barcelona and now we keep having these strong results
“Last year, I kept telling people, ‘Be patient, my moment will come – this bad luck is not normal, this bad run of reliability is not normal and I am confident that, if this stops, you will see what I am capable of.’ And now, after understanding the car over the first few races and after getting rid of that black cat that was following us since last season, it’s finally coming.”
We believe him. After all, he didn’t invite comparisons to Verstappen for nothing. We wonder what he’ll be able to do if he was ever given a brighter stage on which to shine.