Given his family connections, it might come as a surprise to discover that Carlos Sainz is a Formula 1 driver. His father – also known as Carlos Sainz – was one of the greatest rally drivers of his generation and a two-time World Rally Champion in the early 1990s.
At the age of 59, the senior member of the Sainz family continues to compete in the occasional motor sport event and most recently took the outright victory in the 2020 Dakar Rally.
That edition of the famous contest was the first to take place in Saudi Arabia, with the rally starting in Jeddah. As the coastal city is also hosting the country’s first-ever Formula 1 race in December, it would be a remarkable double for the Sainz family if his son can also claim success at a major international motor sport event held in Saudi Arabia.
Sainz Jr grew up watching F1 on TV at his home in Madrid, Spain. During the mid-2000s, his countryman Fernando Alonso was the young hero who toppled Michael Schumacher to win two F1 World Championships in 2005 and 2006. That inspired the young Sainz to follow in the footsteps of Alonso, rather than follow the same route his father took into rallying.
In 2009 he won the prestigious Junior Monaco Kart Cup and graduated to single-seater cars in 2010. He joined the Red Bull Junior Team – the talent programme that helps find (and also fund) the next generation of racer. After a couple of seasons with mixed results, Sainz proved his worth when he won the 2014 Formula Renault Championship.
That led to the Spaniard getting a seat in the junior Red Bull team Torro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri) in Formula 1 for 2015, alongside another rookie driver: Max Verstappen.
Despite a close contest between the two, it was Verstappen who was given the much sought after promotion to Red Bull Racing, so Sainz and Red Bull parted company and he drove for Renault for two seasons, before switching to McLaren for 2019.
Ironically, the man he replaced at the British team was his great hero Fernando Alonso, who he had become close friends with since he started to race in F1. In his two years with McLaren, Sainz scored two podiums: third in Brazil in 2019 and a second place at Monza the following year. For 2021, Sainz has made the switch to Ferrari and now into his seventh season in Formula 1 is still seeking his first Grand Prix victory.
Could it finally arrive in Jeddah this December?