Carlos Sainz did not appreciate the level of detail Ferrari would go into while researching his Formula One career performances before deciding to sign him for 2021.
Sainz enjoyed a breakout campaign with McLaren in 2019, capped with the first podium of his F1 career at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He finished the year a career-best sixth in the championship, and during the pandemic-enforced delay to the 2020 season he signed a deal to drive with Ferrari.
Despite his superb 2019 campaign, Sainz’s lack of TV coverage became a running joke on social media during the season. While he was worried of results being overlooked in the midfield, Ferrari left no stone unturned in making sure they had the right man to replace Sebastian Vettel next season.
When asked how important podium in Brazil was in securing the move, Sainz told ESPN: “Of course it had an influence. I cannot deny a podium makes you be a bit more in the spotlight and people look at you.
“But from what I’ve seen from how the top teams analyse the drivers, it’s in a much more complete picture than what I thought at first. It’s a lot more detailed than I thought, so I’m sure they were looking into my previous seasons, not only into that podium in Brazil but also the consistency of the campaign and finishing P6 in the drivers’ championship.”
“I think they analyse a lot more stuff than I thought, and this was a bit of a surprise, the amount of analysis the teams sometimes go into individually. So a good surprise because sometimes in the midfield you think they’re not looking into you too much or you’re not on TV much!”
Sainz’s move to Ferrari went against what would be expected in a normal season, in that it was confirmed before the season had started, with the majority of formal discussions before the announcement being conducted over Zoom.
His first trip to the fabled Ferrari factory at Maranello will not happen for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve not been there yet,” he said. “For contractual reasons and for a matter of full commitment to my team, I’m not planning on being related to Ferrari or anything near Ferrari in the next couple of months.”
Sainz’s teammate Lando Norris has admitted lighthearted jokes between the pair have already started regarding the Spaniard’s imminent move to Ferrari, with Norris keen for the team to finish ahead of their Italian rivals in 2020 as a result.
Sainz was impressed by the reaction of his McLaren colleagues when he first saw them after the news had broken, a reaction that has only strengthened his desire to finish with another strong showing in the championship.
“It was mainly people happy for me and telling me ‘good job’ and I deserve it,” he said of the first races back. “The mechanics and everything had some nice words for me, which made me want to finish in a higher position ahead of my move next year, leave McLaren on a high just because of how much appreciation I got from everyone here — how comfortable they made me feel even after making such a tough and difficult decision.
“It was just a lot of respect and kind words from most people, really.”