FORMULA 1: CARLOS SAINZ JR.
category,” he says. “Every year I’ve made
one step up. So I was always kind of a
rookie, and it was always a new challenge
for me. I would say I had two very strong
first years in 2010 and ‘ 11, where I made
my name and started to show a bit what I
was capable of. In 2012 and ‘ 13, I
struggled a bit more. I was still shining
sometimes, but never in a consistent way.”
Kvyat made faster progress, but Carlos
retained Red Bull support, and the energy
drink giant was repaid in 2014 when he
won the Renault 3. 5 title.
“Finally I put it all together for 2014,”
he says. “I learned a lot, and I said, ‘This is
my year; it’s time to win a championship.’
For me, winning that championship was
everything. I knew that coming second I
was out of the picture for Toro Rosso, so
it was all or nothing. I had to win that, and
not only win it, but do it in a special way.
Sebastian Vettel’s departure for Ferrari
was the key that opened the F1 door.
Kvyat was promoted to a Red Bull Racing
seat for 2015, leaving a vacancy at Toro
Rosso alongside Max Verstappen, who’d
finally confirmed as an STR driver Nov.
28, just days after testing for RBR in Abu
Dhabi. He’d shown he was ready.
“When you’re with Red Bull, you don’t
just need to do a good job, you need to
show them something else, something
that not everyone else has,” says Carlos Jr.
“You need to send messages that you
have something different. So it’s not only
winning a championship, or winning a race,
it’s really trying to get their attention.”
So far, he’s had a strong start to his F1
career, earning points in four of the first six
GPs. Given the hype around Verstappen,
it’s easy to overlook the fact that Sainz is
also a rookie, and is still finding his way.
“This is what people forget, I’m very
young, I’m still only 20,” he says. “At 20 you
enter the list of some of the youngest
points scorers ever in F1. But people still
think that I’m old! Max is 17, he’s a huge
talent, a really, really good driver. But it
doesn’t mean that if he’s good, I’m not. We
can be two good drivers at the same time.”
Does Sainz face less pressure than the
high-profile Dutchman? He doesn’t think so.
“In Spain everyone is trying to compare
us,” he says. “Even internationally, everyone
is looking at how much Max is going to be
quicker than Carlos, so it’s not easy. People
will say I have less pressure, but in the end
(Red Bull driver development boss) Helmut
Marko, (STR team principal) Franz Tost and
all the people here expect me to perform at
the same level as him, so the pressure I feel
is pressure from my bosses. And my bosses
Carlos sainz Jr.
“Everyone’s looking at how
much Max [Verstappen] is
going to be quicker than
Carlos, so it’s not easy”
Toro Rosso’s rookie lineup of Verstappen and
Sainz Jr. (BELOW), average age 18. 5, was a
big storyline coming in to 2015. But Carlos
(ABOVE) hasn’t let it become a distraction.