Carlos Sainz Jr. began his Scuderia Ferrari adventure at the end of last month, completing his first day and half of testing at their Fiorano test track.
It was the Spaniard first appearance in Ferrari colours since joining the team in May 2020, as he completed over 150 laps in the 2018 car, SF71H. He shared the driving duties with his new team-mate Charles Leclerc as well as a number of Ferrari Driver Academy drivers including Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott.
Having left the McLaren F1 Team at the end of two seasons that saw him secure his maiden podium finishes, Sainz said it was a ‘dream come true’ to join Formula 1’s most successful team.
“I guess the easiest way to describe what joining Scuderia Ferrari means to me is a childhood dream come true!” said the Spaniard. “However, the way I see it, to put on the red race suit and drive for this team is much more than just a dream.
“As a racing driver, it’s a great honour and a big responsibility that I really look forward to experiencing and embracing.”
The 26-year-old underwent a terrific final season at McLaren to help them finish third in the Constructors’ Championship – their highest since 2012 – and a sixth-place finish for himself, equalling his best-ever position in the Drivers’ standings.
Ahead of his sixth year in F1, Sainz is now aiming to add a World Championship to his name and believes Ferrari is the best place to do so, despite a difficult 2020 for the Italian team.
“Since the very first day I started racing I only had two targets in mind: to become a Formula 1 Grand Prix driver and to win the World Championship,” Sainz added. “After achieving the first one, all my focus and efforts are invested in trying to achieve the second target and there is no better place than Ferrari to go for it.
“The ambition is to help create a winning team, bring the Scuderia back to the very top where it belongs and win the World Championship.”
“Every single team goes through difficult moments at some point”
2020 was Ferrari’s worst season in recent history after finishing as low as sixth in the constructor standings last season – lowest since 1980 in which they finished tenth.
Some may argue that this will be a downgrade for Sainz after McLaren finished seventy-one points ahead of the Italian manufacturer. However, the Spaniard is confident that Ferrari will return to the top, even though it could take some time.
“Every single team goes through difficult moments at some point, it’s part of Formula 1. What really matters is the ability to bounce back.
“If there is a team on the grid that can fight back to the top, it is Ferrari. I have full confidence in the project and, even though the process might take some time, I’m sure the team will eventually return to its winning ways.
“What you can be sure of is that I will give my absolute best to help shorten that process as much as possible.”
Sainz will partner alongside the highly talented Leclerc on the grid for 2021 season, who endured highs and lows in the 2020 campaign. The twenty-three-year-old finished in eighth, just seven points behind his new team-mate, but manage to score two podiums across the season – Austrian Grand Prix and British Grand Prix.
The pair will form the youngest driver pairing at Ferrari since 1968, however, Sainz believes experience is more valuable than age in F1 as they look to bring Ferrari back amongst the best.
“To be honest I don’t think age on its own is such an important factor,” said Sainz. “If anything, experience in this sport is more valuable than age. Obviously the older you are the more experienced you get, but even that is not a guarantee that you will be faster.
“Despite being the youngest pair of drivers of at the Scuderia in many years, we are not rookies anymore and we understand the importance and responsibility of driving for Ferrari. I really look forward to that responsibility in a good and positive way and I’m sure that, together with Charles, we are going to bring motivation, passion and hunger to the team.”
Sainz, and Leclerc, will make their first appearance together at the pre-season test in Bahrain, which is set to take place during the second week in March.