Ferrari have turned to Carlos Sainz Jr to team with Charles Leclerc for the 2021 Formula One season as the Italian team look to end their drought without the Drivers’ Championship in the sport.
It has been 13 years since a Ferrari driver triumphed in the Drivers’ Championship when Kimi Raikkonen edged out Lewis Hamilton for the crown in the final race of the season. Since then, one of the most prestigious teams in the history of motor racing has endured a decline.
They have failed to contend in the 2020 season, falling behind Red Bull Racing and Renault among other sides in the Constructors’ Championship. Their two drivers have endured nothing other than frustration on the track, which has resulted in the departure of Sebastian Vettel after five seasons.
Vettel’s arrival in 2015 was supposed to allow the Italian outfit to challenge the dominance of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton at the top of the sport. However, the Brit remains unchallenged and is on course to reel off his fourth title win on the bounce. He continues to be the leading contender for every race on the schedule in the F1 betting odds, including the Turkish Grand Prix, where he is 2/5. For Vettel and Ferrari, the situation has become almost toxic between the German and the team. Their inability to compete with Mercedes has caused a fracture in their relationship leading to his departure and the arrival of Sainz to replace him for the 2021 campaign.
During his career Sainz has not done anything to suggest that he will provide an upgrade over Vettel at the Italian outfit. Six seasons into his Formula One tenure, the 26-year-old only has two podium places to show for over 110 races. It is not all the fault of the Spaniard given that he has been with teams not expected to challenge at the top of the standings.
Sainz recorded his best performance this season with McLaren in his second year with the team. He finished second at the Italian Grand Prix, although this was in a race where Hamilton was penalised in the middle of proceedings. Even then, Sainz did not have the speed to claim top spot as he was beaten out by AlphaTouri-Honda’s Pierre Gasly by 0.415s. Since then, the 26-year-old has been consistent with his displays, though he has been lacking the pace to challenge the elite drivers on the circuit.
In the past, Ferrari have seized on potential; most notably Michael Schumacher’s performances at Benetton. The German won two world titles in his spell with the outfit before switching to Ferrari, where he would lift a further five Drivers’ Championships in five years between 2000 and 2004. It worked to a degree with Raikkonen, although he was never able to fulfil his true potential.
Since then, the Italian outfit have failed to identify the right talent to bring them success on the track. They will be hopeful that, in their system, Sainz thrives and takes his driving to new heights. However, it has not been the case with a similar driver in the form of Leclerc – at least in 2020. And it certainly has not worked out for Vettel, who had far more pedigree as a four-time champion with Red Bull than Sainz’s experience with Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren.
It does not suggest that a change in fortune is on the horizon for Ferrari unless a new vehicle gives them an overwhelming advantage against Mercedes in the coming seasons.