The man without a plan: The case for Carlos Sainz

What a comeback! Removing appendix, laying in bed for 10 days without moving and then go on to win his third ever grand prix. What more can the Tifosi ask for? Or, forget the Tifosi; All of us! If Verstappen hadn’t been forced to retire due to an overheating break that finally caught fire, the race likely would have looked different. That said, that was a Sainz win, not a Verstappen loss. He drove like an upcoming champion. If Ferrari can get their cars closer to to Red Bull, I believe Carlos might prove to be the stronger racer over a whole season than Charles LeClerc. LeClerc’s iconic racing against Verstappen at the opening races of 2022 was some of the best driving I’ve ever seen in Formula 1. LeClerc’s talent is obvious, and he’s at the same level as Versappen on good days. What he makes up for with talent, he lacks in consistency. Sainz on the other hand, seem almost the opposite. He’s so determined, so stable, and just seem to keep his head down and convert all his energy into results - time and again. 

Too good to be dropped

Carlos Sainz is way to good of a driver to be dropped by Ferrari at this stage in his career. Although it’s entirely going with Ferrari’s somewhat extravagant “we’re on another level (regardless of our results)” attitude to sign a spotlight name like Hamilton, but the question is if it’s the right move? From Hamilton’s perspective, it makes total sense. 1. He has little to loose. Mercedes doesn’t seem able to transform into a championship winning team as it stands, and 2. If he wins an 8 world title with Mercedes, he would be called the GOAT by a bunch of people, but others would probably feel like he didn’t need to prove himself enough to deserve such a title. 3. Winning with Ferrari would put him on a whole new level of icon. Not only would he be the first driver to win the championship with three teams since Fangio (who won with 4 different teams), he would have done it for the only team that is a must to reach stratospheric levels: Scuderia Ferrari. From Ferrari’s perspective; Yes, certainly amazing if they manage to get a win with Hamilton. But are they getting a man that is at the top of his game or someone who’s on the declining end of his career? Russell seem capable of beating him any day, and did beat Hamilton in the driver’s championship in his maiden year at Mercedes (albeit not the second). Carlos on the other hand is up against a raw talent in LeClerc and is firmly standing his ground. LeClerc is often quicker over one lap, but come race day, Sainz just drives his heart out. 

So what's next?

As for options, it’s still too early in the session to get a good sense of where his chips may fall. Mercedes will have a seat free. They have been a championship wining team and may turn things around eventually. That is far from a given though. Critics say that Toto Wolff came to a team already laid out for him, and now is the first time he needs a different skill set than when Mercedes was at the front. Top team, yes, but championship winning? Not clear. Enter Red Bull. Sergio Perez’s contract ends this year, and the question is if he’s living up to the high bar the team sets on their drivers. Carlos Sainz is a product of the Red Bull Junior Team and drove with Toro Rosso (now Racing Bulls), so he’s no stranger to the team. Red Bull are clearly the team to drive for at the moment, and they’re piling on their constructor’s titles as well as driver’s with Verstappen. Going to a team like Sauber that will become Audi in 2026 could be a cool gig to build up and lead, but Carlos is at his prime now. Does he have the time and need to wait such a long time before driving for a front team again? Red Bull seem the best option for the moment. 

We’ll likely have to wait longer into the season before the Silly part of it starts, but given how Carlos is driving, he definitely has the eyes of all teams on him. Well deserved.