Carlos Sainz Jnr biography
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
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Being the son of a two-times World Rally Champion and earning the support of Red Bull gave Carlos Sainz Jnr a strong chance of gaining a place in F1. However for a while it seemed he might miss out on that opportunity.
Leading the Formula Renault 3.5 series in mid-2014, Sainz’s prospects looked very good. But the emerging talent of Formula Three driver Max Verstappen put a spanner in the works: Red Bull signed him up to their young driver programme alongside Sainz, and immediately gave Verstappen their sole vacant F1 seat at Toro Rosso for 2015.
It was only when Sebastian Vettel decided to leave Red Bull later in the year that a space opened up for Sainz. With Kvyat moving up to take Vettel’s place, Sainz could now slot in alongside Verstappen.
He had given a good account of himself during 2014, becoming the first Red Bull junior driver to win the Formula Renault 3.5 championship. However he had blown hot and cold during the season, sometimes showing his rivals a clean pair of heels (as at Paul Ricard), other times struggling (as at Jerez, where he failed to score a single point).
But an end-of-season F1 test cemented Red Bull’s decision to give Sainz the drive he worked hard for. He made his way there despite switching codes more or less once per season throughout his junior career.
Sainz had begun karting at the age of seven and by 2010 Red Bull had got interested and brought him onto their Junior Team. His first season of car racing was in Formula BMW, and he placed a strong fourth (and top rookie) in the F1-supporting European series.
As BMW ended its junior series Sainz switched to Formula Renault 2.0. He won the Northern European Cup in 2011 but was beaten to second in the more prestigious Eurocup by Robin Frijns. Sainz also made his first starts in Formula Three, which became the focus of his career the following year.
Sainz was leading the British championship after the first two triple-header rounds, but by the end of the year he had fallen to sixth in the standings. In a hectic schedule he also competed in the European series, where he finished ninth.
It was all change again for 2013 as Red Bull placed Sainz in GP3 and later added him to their Formula Renault 3.5 line-up as well. Sainz did not take to GP3 as well as team mate Daniil Kvyat, who claimed the title while Sainz ended the year fourth.
But his part-year in Formula Renault 3.5 stood him in good stead for 2014 where it was the focus of his season. Driving the same DAMS car used by Kevin Magnussen to take the title the previous year, Sainz took a series record of seven wins on his way to the crown – and a place in F1.
Despite an uncompetitive Renault engine and an unreliable car, Toro Rosso’s STR10 performed well when it was shown a corner and Sainz took immediate advantage, scoring points on his debut in Australia and repeating the feat on his second start.
However a poor finishing record – which was almost entirely the fault of the car and included four consecutive breakdowns at mid-season – limited his potential for scoring points. It was a problem Toro Rosso never got on top of – at the penultimate round in Brazil his car stopped on this way to the grid and broke down again shortly after the race began.
Sainz persevered, however, and showed his grit in Russia where he bounced back from a fearful high-speed crash in practice to take part in the race, only to be stopped by another problem. At the next round in America he again had to start at the back, but this time climbed to an excellent seventh at the finish.
Team mate Verstappen, however, was three places ahead. He also attracted the most attention and scored the most points of the two when the season reached its end.
Four races in to 2017 and the situation had changed little: despite car trouble Sainz was showing plenty of promise but Verstappen a little more. That proved decisive when Red Bull decided to return Kvyat to the junior team: it was Verstappen who got the promotion.
Unmoved, Sainz duly turned in one of his best drives of the season on home ground at the next race. This began a string of points finishers which saw him take the overwhelming majority of Toro Rosso’s points.
Red Bull were quick to extended his contract for another year, though with the top team still full he remained at Toro Rosso.
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