Sainz 'Was Unlucky' To Have Verstappen As His Teammate Says Marko

F1
by Adam OndrikTuesday, 23 January 2024 at 07:00
sainz carlos ferrari7
Helmut Marko commended Carlos Sainz in a recent interview as he suggested it was obvious from his first year in Formula One that he was a great driver.
Even though Carlos Sainz now races for one of Red Bull's main rivals - Scuderia Ferrari, the Spanish driver used to be a part of the Red Bull family at the start of his career.
In the years 2015-2017, Sainz spent almost three full seasons with Toro Rosso (known as AlphaTauri today), where he worked with Helmut Marko. The Austrian Red Bull advisor remembered this period in his recent interview with Spanish outlet Marca:

"Sainz is, without a doubt, a great driver. He was almost on par with Max in the Toro Rosso. The bad thing for him is that he was unlucky to have Verstappen as a team-mate."

The Spaniard started in Toro Rosso at the same time as a three-years-younger Max Verstappen. The two have been teammates for one season, basically before the Dutchman got promoted to Red Bull.

"The atmosphere between the two in the team was quite toxic. The way the team was set up at the time, I didn’t see a way to keep him with us, so Carlos went to Renault, to McLaren, and then ended up at Ferrari."

Sainz was disappointed in Toro Rosso and had to find a different path to one of the top teams, which he eventually did as he fought his way up through Renault and McLaren before joining Ferrari.
Marko also remembered the 29-year-old's first test with the Red Bull family at Silverstone, where he showed great potential by being quicker than Sebastian Vettel in the fast corners.

"He was very fast in the minor categories. In his first F1 test at Silverstone, right from the start, he was slightly quicker in the fast corners than Sebastian Vettel, who was our reference at that moment."

Red Bull found themselves in need. of a driver after the first four races of the 2016 season, and Marko said he knew Verstappen was the right choice. The Flying Dutchman went on to win his first race with Red Bull right away.

"Sainz was almost at the same level as Verstappen… almost, but when we had to choose between Max and Carlos, it was clear what we had to do."

Maybe Sainz was unlucky to be paired with Verstappen at the start of his career. On the other hand, the Ferrari driver has come a long way since then.
In 2023, he was the only non-Red Bull driver to achieve a race win. Could he be the one who stood up to the triple World Champion if Ferrari managed to build more competitive cars in 2024?