#MotorsportTribune: Carlos Sainz Jr. and where to go next
Carlos Sainz Jr. is undoubtedly one of the most promising talent in Formula One. The son of the legendary Carlos Sainz is now in his third season in the sport but unfortunately he is often overlooked due to the success of his former teammate - Dutch sensation Max Verstappen.
Carlos is now in his 8th year associating with Red Bull after being part of the Red Bull Junior program since 2010. He’s also in his third year racing in Formula One with Red Bull Racing’s sister outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso.
The problem for Sainz is that Red Bull is now comfortable with its duo of the immensely talented Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen as they want to keep both of them for the long run. So which means Carlos is now in a dead end situation with Red Bull. It’s hard to know that Sainz will ever have his opportunity to drive for Red Bull in the future unless something drastically happens.
But the thing is… although Red Bull might be a dead end for the young Spaniard, there are further possibility for him from next year and beyond.
Carlos now is on course to be Toro Rosso longest serving driver, surpassing Jean-Eric Vergne. Carlos is in a situation deeply similar to the ex-Toro Rosso driver. The Frenchman lost out to Daniel Ricciardo when Red Bull promote the Aussie to replace the retiring Mark Webber at the end of the 2013 season. Which Vergne stayed behind Toro Rosso for another year, things look promising for Jean-Eric but Red Bull opted to have his new rookie teammate Danill Kvyat to replace Vettel in 2015. Vergne was axed by Red Bull, later join Ferrari as a test driver and now driving in Formula E.
Sainz might be in the same situation like Vergne but the young Spaniard options is much more open than the Frenchman.
Carlos is now having a tough decision on his hands. He can plays it safe and stay back with Toro Rosso, or moving on to further proving his talent under the shadow of Max.
In this current situation in Formula One, these are three options might best fit Sainz.
Ferrari might be the best option available for Sainz. With the impending departure of Kimi Raikkonen from the sport in the future, Ferrari might as well be on the look for a new driver to partner Sebastian Vettel in case the Finn retires.
Carlos is probably the driver out of the bunch for the red scarlet scuderia to replace Raikkonen. Although he might faces strong opposition.
Sainz biggest competition might be Sergio Perez with his backings from Claro and Telmex. Claro was once a sponsor for Ferrari for 2015 and 2016 before dropping out with the exclusion of Esteban Guttierrez from Haas last year.
Other possible replacement for Raikkonen might be from the Ferrari Academy with Antonio Fuoco and Charles Leclerc might set to be the first ever Ferrari Academy driver to graduate to the main team. Antonio Giovinazzi and Kevin Magnussen might be also on the hunt as well.
Ferrari has moved away from the Enzo’s era of picking young talents over experienced driver like the case of Niki Lauda, Didier Pironi or Gilles Villeneuve and much much more to signing drivers like Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen in the past few seasons.
So the odds might be in Carlos side right now.
Although it hasn’t been much discussed, the fight for the second seat at Williams to replace Felipe Massa is heating up nicely.
Williams is the most possible option for Sainz to get in as right now the only driver in contention for the seat alongside Lance Stroll is Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein who is now driving for Sauber.
Toto Wolf might as well use their Mercedes connection with his friends from Grove to put the young German in the seat. Mercedes might offer a payment to them or discounting engine price for next season if they put Pascal in. Sainz is much more experienced and might have an edge to the German as it is also reported that Wehrlein is difficult to work it.
This is the long option for Carlos, Renault has the facility and staffs to do the job. But the thing is, he might wait a few years for the team to get a move on. Renault has invested a lot for their comeback in Formula One and there is no way but up for the French marque.
With Palmer under performing and struggles behind Hulkenberg. Renault might as well look for a replacement for Jolyon. Sainz might be a good fit for the team but he also faces some serious opposition from Russian Sergey Sirotkin who is now Renault’s reserve driver this season.
Sergey also has the edge on Sainz in sponsor as he is supported by SMP Racing and performed well in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2. He also took part in some Free Practice sessions and testings for the team with his lap times matching closely to Palmer. Sainz still has the experience under his belt so the game is on between the two.
So, it’s now on Sainz’s hands to decide his future and it might have a huge impact to his future in Formula One as well. So, let’s play the waiting game and we shall see what will happen.